Questions on: • Tone • Mood • Atmosphere
Tone is concerned with voice. • Mood is concerned with emotion. • Atmosphere is concerned with the senses.
Learning Objectives for Questions on Tone To identify differing tones through an analysis of purpose
What is Tone? Tone is not so much about what is said but the way it is said. It is about the attitude of the writer to the subject he or she is writing about. You can change the tone just by changing a word or phrase. Compare: “You seem to spend a lot of time chatting to your friends.” and “You seem to waste a lot of time gabbing to your cronies.” The first is sympathetic, the second unsympathetic
The tone of a piece of writing can be changed by: • a word • a phrase • use of inverted commas • use of brackets
What is Tone? The PURPOSE of the writing is key to the TONE that the author is attempting to achieve. The most simplistic definition of tone is “the voice the author is using through the narrative of the writing.” Discursive writing may use emotive language, humouror sarcasm to put a point across strongly. Other discursive pieces may just present the facts in an objective, formal fashion. In magazines the author may try to be the reader’s best friend and will utilisecolloquial language (chatty, friendly, slang).
Tone Start by considering the overall tone of the passage. Is it being: • serious, • sarcastic or • light-hearted? You must have evidence to back up what you say, so look out in particular for word choice in passages.
Compare these two examples of an introduction to a passage: Passage 1 is taken from film critic Leslie Halliwell’s ‘The Dead That Walk’, his lively history of horror film. Passage 1 is taken from film critic Leslie Halliwell’s ‘The Dead That Walk’, his insightful history of horror film. What difference do the highlighted words make? The word ‘lively’ implies a less serious tone than the word ‘insightful’. If you were reading the passage aloud, what tone of voice would you use?
Think about whether the writer is being… • Formal or informal? • Serious orlight-hearted? • Critical or supportive? These aren’t all useable tones but they can help to point you in the right direction.
A – Z of Tones… • Grumpy • Humorous • Ironic • Jealous • Kind • Loving • Mocking • Nostalgic • Offensive • Old-fashioned • Polite • Pompous • Regretful • Sorrowful • Sarcastic • Snobby • Strict • Thoughtful • Tongue-in-cheek • Unctious • Vicious • Wistful • eXasperated • Youthful • Zealous • Affectionate • Aggressive • Angry • Apologetic • Bossy • Chatty • Cheerful • Demanding • Defensive • Dreamy • Dull • Excited • Fond
Irony or Sarcasm? • Irony: “A mockingly humorous use of words in which the intended meaning is the opposite of what is actually said.” • Sarcasm: “Using harsh, bitter words intended to hurt or insult, especially in an exaggerated or ironical way.”
Identifying Tone You should look for particular words or phrases that help to identify the tone. Match the phrases with the tone created by the words in blue: Contemptuous Resigned Devastated • Angry “I’m sorry,” she spat. “I’m sorry,” she sneered “I’m sorry,” she sighed. “I’m sorry,” she sobbed.
Formula for Tone questions • Identify the tone • Give evidence (quote the words/phrase that ‘contain’ the tone • Commenton its effect Look at the following question on tone - Question 3(b) in the 2005 paper.
Explain how the writer creates a slightly humorous tone in lines 34 – 43. 2 A Word choice indicates tone Use of inverted commas may indicate tone Survivors of essentially random impact catastrophes – cosmic accidents – were those creatures who just happened to be “lucky” enough to find themselves alive after the dust settled. It doesn’t matter how well a creature may have been able to survive in a particular environment before the event – being thumped on the head by a large object from space during the event is not conducive to a long and happy existence. Use of informal language to indicate tone Italics to indicate tone Write your own answer to this question irony
SQA Marking Instructions for this question Marks will depend on the quality of explanation. A single point well explained and suitably supported by reference could score 2 marks. A more basic comment will score 1 mark. Reference alone or mere identification of a feature: 0. How many marks would your answer get?
Look at the following answers. How many marks would each candidate get?
1) The writer creates a slightly humorous tone in being thumped on the head by a large object from space. The writer’s choice of words in “thumped” has connotations of cartoons in which one character is unlucky enough to be hit with a large object. The image evoked from this word is one of humour which brings about this humorous tone. 1 mark - The candidate makes reference to cartoons but does not really explain how the humour is created. A ‘strong’ one mark but not quite sufficient for full marks. 2) The language the writer uses is humorous as he uses phrases such as ‘who just happened to be “lucky”… alive after the dust settled.’ This creates the image of creature’s heads peering out while dust settles. This is a rather humorous image. At the end of the paragraph when the writer says ‘thumped on the head by a large object… not conducive to a long and happy existence. This also is rather humorous and as if he is reaching out to the skeptics and asking them how you would survive that. 0 marks - A two part answer which makes reference but fails to explain the humour in either case – the first comment is mere assertion and the second struggles to make sense.
The following answer would get full marks: • “being thumped over the head” - “thumped” – hit hard, informal, playful The informal language detailing a playful violence contrasts with the power and severity of the impact which is humorous. • “is not conducive to a long and happy existence” This is humorous, and ironic, in that it would be impossible to live after such a force – and this suggests the impact of a comet is merely counter productive. • The contrast of the informality of “thumped” with the formal “conducive” is also humorous.
1) ‘This was marginally inconvenient…boxing gold.’ What tone is adopted by the writer in this sentence? Go on to explain the effect of the tone in this context. (2) The truth was that he (Ali) was dead scared of flying. Two months earlier, on his way to the U.S. boxing trials, he had been violently buffeted during a turbulent flight across to California. It was the first time he had ever travelled by air, and he swore he would never fly again. This was marginally inconvenient when he was one of the hottest hopes America had for Olympic boxing gold. Mark your answer Marking instructions: Ironic, tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic, dry, humorous...(1) Acceptable explanation of effectiveness / ineffectiveness (1) Such explanations include: i) effective as it points up the humour / farcical nature of the situation ii) effective as it points up how human the young "hero" actually was iii) effective as it points up how much emotion America had invested in him iv) Ineffective / effective as it belittles a potentially serious situation The above list is not exhaustive. Candidates will offer other explanations whose acceptability will have to be judged by the marker.
Marking instructions: Ironic, tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic, dry, humorous...(1) Acceptable explanation of effectiveness / ineffectiveness (1) Such explanations include: i) effective as it points up the humour / farcical nature of the situation ii) effective as it points up how human the young "hero" actually was iii) effective as it points up how much emotion America had invested in him iv) Ineffective / effective as it belittles a potentially serious situation The above list is not exhaustive. Candidates will offer other explanations whose acceptability will have to be judged by the marker. This is a serious angry tone . The content is effective at creating this tone because the author goes on to say Cassius was so popular worldwide he needed to go back on a plane and it took a long while to persuade him to do so. How many marks would the following answers get? O marks
Marking instructions: Ironic, tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic, dry, humorous...(1) Acceptable explanation of effectiveness / ineffectiveness (1) Such explanations include: i) effective as it points up the humour / farcical nature of the situation ii) effective as it points up how human the young "hero" actually was iii) effective as it points up how much emotion America had invested in him iv) Ineffective / effective as it belittles a potentially serious situation The above list is not exhaustive. Candidates will offer other explanations whose acceptability will have to be judged by the marker. The tone is humorous and it is effective as it stresses the "inconvenience" of having this fear. The humour is in "marginally" as this is a huge understatement and it emphasises how disruptive this fear would be to his career. 2 marks
2) Show how the writer uses tone to demonstrate her strength of feeling in these lines. (2) Yet Ireland has managed to attract its young entrepreneurs back to help drive a burgeoning economy. We must try to do likewise. We need immigrants. We cannot grow the necessary skills fast enough to fill the gap sites. We need people with energy and commitment and motivation, three characteristics commonly found among those whose circumstances prompt them to make huge sacrifices to find a new life. • Stress on ‘must’, ‘need’ ‘cannot’ and ‘need’. • These words demand action. • Tone could be: demanding; persuasive; pleading. • Repetition of ‘we’: • Underlines the fact that they must help themselves/each other . • Repetition of ‘and’: • Emphasises importance of qualities that are needed.
3) Show how the language of these lines contributes toward a complex portrait of the Scots. You should consider tone. (2) And we are certainly not mean: we may sometimes be cautious, for we have long memories of poverty; but we are just as often generous to a fault. We are not hypocritical, at least not very. We love nothing better than logical argument, so much so that, in Edinburgh at least, we are sometimes accused of even making love on a metaphysical level, which may account for the relatively static population. • Structure of lines. • Juxtaposes the contradictions of the Scottish character. • Word choice of “certainly not mean” • Suggests writer is offended at the very idea. • Uses euphemism of “cautious” instead, though both words have the same basic meaning. • Comment: “making love…population.” • Now poking fun at characteristic of own nation. • Tone could be: defensive, tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating.
4) In the final paragraph the writer makes clear that he disapproves of too much government intervention. Show how the writer’s tone demonstrates his strength of feeling. (2) It might; but it would also constitute too great an intrusion on liberty for the gain in equity and efficiency it might (or might not) represent. Society has a legitimate interest in fat, because fat and thin people both pay for it. But it also has a legitimate interest in not having the government stick its nose too far into their private sphere. If people want to eat their way to grossness and an early grave, let them. • contemptuous • informality/vulgarity of “stick its nose … grossness … early grave” • elevated, rather hectoring • “constitute … intrusion on liberty … private sphere”
5) Show how the writer’s use of language creates a self-mocking tone. (2) One faction has cried constantly that the countryside is in mortal danger from greedy developers whose only motive is profit; another has kept on roaring that farmers are killing every wild thing in sight and threatening the very soil on which we stand through overuse of machinery and chemicals; still another has been continually heard ululating over a decline in the bird population, or the loss of hedgerows, or the disappearance of marshland, or the appearance of coniferous forest. cried constantly mortal danger roaring threatening the very soil on which we stand continually heard ululating
Mood • Here, you’re looking for an emotionalfeeling in the passage (fear, sorrow, joy, etc.) • As with tone, you will need evidence from the text to help you prove your point. • You should be looking to use any of the techniques you have studied. • You must: • Identify an appropriate mood • Give evidencefrom the text to support your choice • Comment on how the mood is created.
6) Identify the mood of these lines. By referring to both imagery and sentence structure, show how the writer creates this mood. (4) Sometimes, later in the evening, one of them will appear downstairs, a pyjamaed stocky ghost lurking on the fringes of our adult evening (scenes from ER or from war-zones are hastily turned off the TV), and say that they are scared. Scared of monsters, scared of wars, scared of you going away, scared of thunder, scared of a rustle outside the bedroom door, scared of don’t know what, just scared. And if we say, but there’s nothing to worry about, you’re safe, there’s nothing there, then they reply that they know that; it’s inside their heads and they can’t make it go away. It’s as if the images that flicker against their eyelids night after night are locked into their skulls when they sleep and go on burning there.
Atmosphere • With atmosphere questions, you tend to be looking for some involvement of the five senses in the passage. • Therefore, your answer could be that the atmosphere is ‘smelly’ or ‘bright’ or ‘noisy’, as these are all linked to the senses. • As always, you need toidentifythe atmosphere, give evidence and comment on it. • As with tone, you will mostly be looking at word choice here.
7) What is the atmosphere created in these lines? Show how the writer creates this atmosphere. (4) Below Westminster, the river belongs to melodrama. At Dockside, just beneath Tower Bridge on the south bank, one can wander among empty warehouses that still smell of cinnamon, where tramps’ fires smoulder on the upper floors and the homeless sleep out the day on acrid sacks. It used to be called St. Saviour’s Dock and was rechristened ‘Savoury* Dock’ because of the stench of ‘Folly Ditch’, the open sewer that flowed into it. It is a shadowy forbidding place; its hard to look into the inert, scummy water of the dock inlet without expecting to see a body there. *from the word savour meaning ‘odour’