Mrs. Dowling's Literature Terms

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Tone

Study Guide

At the end of this unit you will be able to:

  • Define tone
  • Identify tone in selected writings.

    Has anyone ever said to you, "Don't use that tone of voice with me?" Your tone can change the meaning of what you say. Tone can turn a statement like, " You're a big help!" into sa genuine compliment or a cruel sarcastic remark.

    Tone is the attitude that an author takes toward the audience, the subject, or the character. Tone is conveyed through the author's words and details.

    What is the tone in the following poem?

    Madam and the Rent Man

    The rent man knocked.
    He said, Howdy-do?
    I said, What
    Can I do for you?
    He said, You know
    Your rent is due.

    I said, Listen
    Before I’d pay
    I’d go to Hades
    And rot away!

    The sink is broke,
    The water don’t run,
    And you ain’t done a thing
    You promised to’ve done.

    Back window’s cracked,
    Kitchen floor squeaks,
    There’s rats in the cellar,
    And the attic leaks.

    He said, Madam,
    It’s not up to me.
    I’m just the agent,
    Don’t you see?

    I said, Naturally,
    You pass the buck.
    If it’s money you want
    You’re out of luck.

    He said, Madam,
    I ain’t pleased!
    I said, Neither am I.

    So we agrees.

    Check out the same poem on the MOOD page to see how tone is different than mood.