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We consider tone to be the attitude the author has or takes towards the reader or the subject/theme of a piece of writing or literature. We pick up the tone, or the attitude, from the words used or the description being given. The author may even directly say what he/she thinks about a subject. The author’s tone or attitude could be serious, playful, mocking, humorous, biting, skeptical, apologetic, etc. Sometimes scholars now use the term “tone” to mean “tone of voice.” This is a very complex feature where writers demonstrate a spectrum of opinions, feelings, and attitudes towards their subject matter to the audience for whom they are writing.
Sometimes we pair tone with atmosphere to understand the overall mood of the literature, but “tone” is not equivalent to “atmosphere.” While atmosphere is the overall feeling created in the audience by the work, the “tone” is specifically the author’s attitude toward a subject matter. Authors can demonstrate their tone, or attitude, through word choice, syntax, or formatting structures they use in the work.
Since the tone is the author’s feelings and attitudes toward the subject matter, the piece of literature does not have to have only one tone. In fact, a piece of literature can have several tones simultaneously. The author my take one tone, such as skeptical, and completely change to a different tone, such as firm belief. The tones may seem to contradict each other, but this is not a problem. Instead, having different tones, especially ones that may seem to work against one another, gives complexity to the author’s attitude and feeling about the subject.
Think about every time you tell a story to someone. Most of the time you tell the story with an attitude and opinion about what happened. This attitude is usually illustrated through how you tell the story. If you talk about a topic that you do not like, you may use more negative words. On the other hand, you might talk about someone you love by describing them more in detail first and using more positive language. The person we talk to picks up on our attitude by how we tell the story and what words we use while telling it.
Tone can naturally change how the audience sees or thinks about a piece of literature or writing. For instance, if you describe a person you like in positive terms, the listener will perceive the person about whom you are speaking in a more positive light.
Look at the following examples to discover use of tone:
From J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye:
“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”
Salinger’s opening sets the tone for almost the entire book. The language Salinger uses conveys an apathetic tone, especially through a character who doesn’t seem to care about traditional storytelling. Salinger’s tone could even be read as critical of traditional literature, like that of Dickens.
From ‘Dunkirk’ Review: Christopher Nolan Has Made Another Great Film by Karen Han:
“The pleasure in Christopher Nolan’s latest film is equal parts in the grace of the visuals (cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema nearly walks away with the whole film) and in its construction. The narrative of Dunkirk is relatively straightforward, but the way it’s put together recalls the simple joy of watching someone construct puzzle box.”
The tone of this opinion piece is one of gratitude and appreciation. The words “pleasure” and “joy” evoke positive feelings and demonstrate a positive attitude towards the subject matter.
This bundle contains 5 ready-to-use tone worksheets that are perfect to test student knowledge and understanding of what tone is and how it can be used. You can use these tone worksheets in the classroom with students, or with home schooled children as well.
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Link will appear as Tone Examples and Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 5, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.