What is the tone in the first two paragraphs of "The Scarlet Ibis "?

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price7781 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Tone is the attitude an author takes towards a subject in a piece of literature.

The short story, “The Scarlet Ibis” begins with a reflective flashback by Brother as he remembers a particular autumn when his brother, Doodle, dies.  The tone is solemn and depressing.  Hurst introduces this tone in the first paragraph by describing the setting in images of death.  The flower garden has “rotting magnolia leaves”, the “ironwoods grew rank”, the oriole nest in the elm is “untenanted”, and the “last graveyard flowers were blooming.”  These descriptive images establish a dark, somber tone that foreshadows a sorrowful time that the narrator is remembering.

In paragraph two, the reader understands that time has passed and that Brother, the narrator, is looking back on a particular time in his life.  Although the farm looks different as Brother is sitting looking out the window of the parlor, the bleeding tree is gone, and he feels as if the grindstone in the front yard is turning back time to the death of Doodle.

Through visual images and a motif of dead or dying things, Hurst presents a tone of sorrowful reflection that embodies the guilt and regret he feels over the death of his younger brother.

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