What is the tone of the short story "The Old Bird"?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The general tone of "The Old Bird" by J. F. Powers can be described as warm, positive, and gently humorous. At the beginning of the story, Charles Newman is an unemployed white collar worker, who has lost his job and is desperately seeking work. He has had bad experiences in his job hunt, being a victim of age discrimination. Luckily, as the story opens, he is well treated in an interview and gets a job in a mail room. He is grateful for them employment and succeeds in doing his job competent, albeit with a few minor glitches. At the end of the day, he overhears management referring to him as "an old bird" and realizes that he does not have the respect he was seeking in his job, although he does have a regular salary. When he returns home to his wife and they discuss the new job, he realizes that gentle mocking is part of their relationship, and that at home as well as work, he engages in a form of buffoonery. The final mood of the story is one of acceptance and happiness.

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The Old Bird

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