Language, Tone, and Style - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Title: Language, Tone, and Style


1
Language, Tone, and Style
8
  • Literature Craft Voice
  • Nicholas Delbanco and Alan Cheuse

2
Definitions
  • Language The words of a story, including syntax
    (how words or other elements of the sentences are
    arranged).
  • Tone The authors attitude toward his or her
    characters or subject matter.
  • Style The characteristic way in which any
    writer uses language. Language and tone with
    other elements, like symbol and irony, create
    style.

3
Language
  • I know that there are many things that can open
    a story, that can start a person working. For me
    its language. Its not an idea.
  • - Amy Hempel

4
Reading for Language
  • The language used in fiction can be lush or lean,
    formal or colloquial, but to be successful it
    must be creative.
  • The language provides a window through which we
    as readers see new worlds, or come to see our own
    world differently.

5
Reading for Language continued
  • To explore an authors use of language, ask the
    following questions.
  • What is being said, and how and why?
  • What effect does the author wish to create
    through language?
  • What effect does the writing have on you?
  • Are there particular words that are important to
    the style and tone of the story?
  • Are there key images that have an impact on the
    style and tone of the story?
  • How would you describe the language chosen by the
    writer?

6
  • Tone is the attitude that the writer lays over
    the story itself.
  • - Richard Ford

7
Reading for Tone
  • What tone of voice can we hear in fiction?
    Consider just some of the possibilities.
  • Serious or comedic?
  • Distant or intimate?
  • Direct or roundabout?
  • Restrained or emotional?
  • Ominous or lighthearted?
  • Straightforward or ironic?

8
Irony
  • Part of detecting tone in a story is the
    recognition of the authors use of irony if
    indeed the author is being ironic.
  • Irony is a difference between what occurs and
    what you expect to occur or between what is said
    and what is meant, and often involves some sort
    of reversal in circumstances of fate.
  • Examples
  • A young man seeks to impress a young woman so he
    buys a new suit, gets a fresh haircut, and
    practices a more sophisticated speech, only to be
    rejected by the girl who wanted a natural sort of
    guy.
  • Oedipus tries desperately to escape his curse by
    leaving his home, but he only hastens its
    fulfillment.

9
Verbal and Dramatic Irony
  • Verbal Irony a person saying one thing and
    meaning another.
  • For example, your neighbor catches you taking out
    the trash in your wrinkled pajamas, with your
    hair askew, and says, Youre looking fabulous.
  • Dramatic Irony a situation in which an author
    or narrator lets the reader know more about a
    situation than a character does.
  • For example, in Kate Chopins Story of an Hour,
    the reader knows that Louise was not overjoyed to
    see her husband return home at the end of the
    story. We know that the doctors are incorrect,
    when they conclude that she had died of joy that
    kills.

10
Style
  • Style the way in which an author tells the
    story, or the characteristic way in which a
    writer uses language and other literary devices,
    including sentence structures, rhythm, imagery,
    symbol, and irony.
  • Style is the verbal identity of the author. Over
    time, authors will develop distinct individual
    voices.
  • On occasion, an author may stray from his
    distinct style to fit a narrative voice. Thomas
    Wolfes characteristic style is marked by
    elegance, polish, a rich vocabulary, and a
    powerful emotional force. This style is at work
    in his most famous novels, Look Homeward Angel
    and You Cant Go Home Again, but not at work in
    Only the Dead Know Brooklyn.

11
  • "You do not create a style. You work, and develop
    yourself your style is an emanation from your
    own being.
  • - Katherine Anne Porter

"Style is as much under the words as in the
words. It is as much the soul as it is the flesh
of a work. - Gustave Flaubert
12
Reading for Style
  • Consider the following questions when trying to
    describe an authors style
  • Is the language lush or lean?
  • Are the sentences long and complex, or short and
    simple?
  • Does the author make use of irony?
  • Does the author make use of symbols?
  • Do the events of the story seem plausible? Could
    they happen in actually?
  • Would you consider the style elegant?
    Hard-boiled? Lyrical? Unadorned? Ornate?
    Self-conscious? Colloquial? Experimental?

13
Language, Tone, and Style in The Rememberer
  • Aimee Bender said that The Rememberer developed
    from a dream. I was going through reverse
    evolution with a friend, and we became dolphins
    and swam around in a tank. About five years
    later, she wrote the story.
  • Tone
  • The Rememberer is told in a tone that might be
    described as flat and dreary with a strong
    undercurrent of sadness. Bender creates tone
    through very simple and direct sentence
    structures, which themselves are often
    rhythmically flat, monotonous, and choppy. Yet
    to relieve the grimness Bender surprises the
    reader with humorous details, frequently
    delivered deadpan, and observations, like her
    chewing whole packs of gum in mere minutes.
  • How does the tone reflect the situation of the
    characters? Their feelings? Does it reflect the
    storys theme?

14
Language in The Rememberer
  • Language
  • Benders diction remains simple throughout the
    story. However, her diction, attention to
    detail, and the narrators contemplations contain
    wonderful surprises for the reader. Consider the
    effect of such details as Bens being kept in a
    glass baking pan, which the narrator later
    calls a cooking boat when she places Ben on a
    baby wave and wonders if the pan will wash up
    on shore for someone to make cookies in. The
    language is simple but the detail, especially
    given its context, adds surprise, humor, and
    sadness all at once.
  • Consider the effect of Benders use of repetition
    in the following and elsewhere he was sad
    about the world He was always sad. Wed sit
    together and be sad and think about being sad and
    sometimes discuss sadness. Dreary? Humorous?
    Revealing of character?
  • It is possible that the narrators use of
    alliteration, repetition, and humor could be a
    way for the narrator to forget her loss and
    escape into prose, thus losing herself and her
    misery in language?
  • Is it also possible that writing becomes a means
    for the narrator to contemplate her loss and
    perhaps reach a fuller understanding of the
    situation.

15
Rememberer continued
  • Consider how The Rememberer fits into the
    following genres
  • Minimalism
  • Minimalism has a rich tradition in American
    literature. Minimalist writing is marked by
    slightly plotted storylines, terse and oblique
    prose, flat and cool-surfaced tones, seemingly
    realistic and even hyperrealistic details, and
    characters often more extrospective than
    introspective. Ernest Hemingway and Raymond
    Carver are often associated with minimalism.
  • Magical Realism or Magic Realism
  • Magical realism is a tendency in the arts,
    especially in painting and fiction, to present
    works with a conventionally realistic surface and
    conventionally realistic elements, but with
    subtle undercurrents of supernatural and mystical
    possibilities, which might draw from myth, dream,
    fantasy, and magic, and go beyond simple
    coincidence. It is as if something magical
    intervenes on the characters and their worlds.
    Other authors associated with magical realism
    include Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia
    Márquez.
  • Consider Benders statement in her Conversation
    on Writing under Fiction and Magic in which
    she mentions magical realism and its imaginative
    leaps as a way to write with more depth and
    perspective.

16
Language, Tone, and Style in Only the Dead Know
Brooklyn
  • Thomas Wolfe experimented with different styles
    and new ways to tell stories. Born in North
    Carolina, Wolfe moved to Brooklyn in 1931. Only
    the Dead Know Brooklyn could only be set in one
    place.
  • Style
  • Wolfe tells this story in a Brooklyn dialect. To
    obtain a better sense of sound, read a section of
    the story aloud. Is Wolfes use of dialect
    effective? Does it seem colorful? Stereotypical?
    Disrespectful? Humorous? Is it a tribute to
    Brooklyns uniqueness and its people?
  • Why is the big guy, an obvious outsider, quoted
    with a Brooklyn accent? Are the tones of the big
    guys speech different from the narrators and
    others?

17
Language, Tone, and Style in Only the Dead Know
Brooklyn
  • Depiction of Brooklyn
  • Brooklyn is as much a character as any of the
    individuals in the story perhaps more so, as
    none of the characters is named. Like the
    dialect of the narrator, Brooklyn is unique,
    rough, and colorful. It is also dangerous,
    diverse, and complex, a place where residents
    learn their surroundings and develop
    resourcefulness not through maps but through
    experience, a place where brawls are commonplace
    and where bartenders keep baseball bats for
    defense. Its various and diverse neighborhoods,
    suggests the narrator, cannot be known in a
    single lifetime. Yet the residents also seem
    provincial, seemingly concerned only about their
    immediate environment, and become overly
    impassioned about minutia.

18
Only the Dead Know Brooklyn continued
  • Contrast and Irony
  • Part of Wolfes style is to use contrast. The
    narrator, for instance, contrasts with the big
    guy in several ways. The narrator sees himself
    as street smart, a man of the world, or at least
    a man of Brooklyn, an experienced man who doesnt
    need a map but relies on his instincts and his
    resourcefulness honed by experience. Yet the
    narrator is actually quite provincial, although
    he kindly takes the big guy, who remains very
    curious to him, under his protective wings.
  • Ironically, the big guy is more adventurous,
    more daring, and more willing to explore strange
    territories than the narrator. The big guy is
    more outgoing, unafraid to ask directions and
    engage strangers in conversation. He
    demonstrates a different kind of toughness.

19
Only the Dead Know Brooklyn continued
  • Significance of Swimming
  • The narrator is proud of how he learned to swim,
    which indicates, he believes, his toughness, his
    resourcefulness, and his ability to survive.
    (His brother pushed him off the docks.) However,
    the big guy is swimming not drowning in
    Brooklyn, as he survives his Brooklyn experience,
    encouraged not by a brother but by his own
    curiosity and confidence.

20
Language, Tone, and Style in Saboteur
  • Ha Jin communicates meaning in Saboteur through
    many different strategies and techniques all of
    which form the style of Saboteur.
  • Point of View
  • Ha Jin tells his story through a third-person
    omniscient narrator, which allows the reader
    access to all the characters thoughts. We see
    Chius somewhat gradual loss of confidence in a
    system which he supported and we see Fenjins
    response to him at the end, through which we can
    infer Ha Jins feelings about Chius act. This
    point of view allows Ha Jin to include the last
    paragraph which brings the story to a shocking
    conclusion. Is Ha Jin at all sympathetic to
    Chiu? Is he angrier at Mao and the state?
  • Tone
  • The story is told in a direct, restrained tone.
    The narrative voice restrains anger and
    bitterness, which are never far from the surface.
    Yet there is also a sense of urgency, as, he
    believes, he has a story that must be told.
    There is no comic relief in the Saboteur.

21
Saboteur continued
  • Symbol (including physical appearance)
  • Ha Jin uses physical appearance to reveal his
    characters and their positions in the culture.
    Both Chiu and his bride are weak reflective
    ultimately of their weak positions in the state,
    despite a life of comparative comfort. Chiu
    suffers from heart disease and hepatitis and his
    wife has pale cheeks, headaches, and perhaps weak
    eyes. The policemen, however, are empowered
    they are stout, tall and of athletic build
    a human version perhaps of the large concrete
    statue of Mao.
  • Since Chiu lectures on acceptable subjects, he
    and his wife live a comfortable life. Among
    other comforts, his television (rare in China at
    the time) reveals his status and privileged
    position. On one professional retreat, Chiu
    was the only one among his colleagues not to be
    affected by the fleas. The fleas are symbolic
    of governmental interference.
  • At the end of the story, when Chiu turns bitter,
    disillusioned, frustrated, and enraged, and with
    his hepatitis finally attacking him, Chiu makes
    up his mind to do something for revenge. On his
    way to the train station with Fenjin, he stops at
    several restaurants to spread his hepatitis
    infection. Fenjin notices that his former
    professor looks ferocious, jaundiced, and
    ugly, reflective of the moral decay of Chiu who
    will make innocent people suffer and die for his
    mistreatment.

22
Saboteur continued
  • Irony
  • The central irony of Saboteur is that despite
    his intellectual accomplishments and his
    privileged status, Chiu is naïve to his
    governments daily practices. Even after his
    arrest, he trusts the government, its justice
    system, and newspapers. Before the chief of the
    bureau, Chiu evokes his privileged status (Im a
    scholar, a philosopher, and expert in dialectical
    materialism) and he demands compensation and a
    letter of apology for his arrest which is
    hardly the threat Chiu believes it to be.
  • Title
  • Saboteur takes on multiple meanings some of
    which are ironic. The term is first applied by
    the policeman at the beginning of the story to
    Chiu for disrupting public order of course,
    it is a false charge. Before the chief of the
    bureau, Chiu calls the policemen saboteurs.
  • By the end of the story, we realize that there
    are several saboteurs Chiu for his final act of
    vengeance, the policemen, the chief of the
    bureau, and ultimately, Mao Zedong for creating
    his totalitarian regime. All sabotage individual
    freedom and justice.

23
Language, Tone, and Style in How to Date a
Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie
  • In How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl,
    Whitegirl, or Halfie, Junot Diaz presents a
    narrator who reveals more about himself than he
    realizes.
  • Language, Tone, and Point of View
  • The narrator writes in colloquial English with
    occasional Spanish words and phrases which reveal
    his background as a Dominican inner-city youth.
    He writes in a self-assured, confident tone with
    occasional lapses which reveal a low self-esteem
    underneath the machismo posturing.
  • The narrator uses his style, which includes mild
    neighborhood vulgarities, to establish
    credibility and to establish further his
    reputation as an experienced and tough man, a
    voice of authority on women.
  • His manual on dating is written in a language,
    tone, and style that might be defined as urban
    teenage bravado. As in most how-to manuals, the
    narrator addresses the reader directly in the
    second person. Would the authenticity and
    effectiveness of the story be compromised if it
    were written in standard English?
  • As part of his style, consider his use of detail.
    Particularly revealing is how the author uses
    government cheese to reveal the narrators
    poverty, youth, and his evaluation of girls from
    different ethnicities.

24
How to Date continued
  • Irony and Characterization
  • Although he is just in high school, the narrator
    presents himself as an experienced man of the
    world, one who knows how to manipulate different
    kinds of young women as well as their parents.
    Readers will find much of what he says to be
    humorous and his advice on how to be smooth,
    ironic. If we read carefully, we can determine
    that he has actually had few, if any, successful
    seductions. In fact, as we read, we become aware
    of his lack of confidence and his insecurity, if
    not his low self-esteem.
  • Consider the humor and irony in several passages
    perhaps his confrontation with Howie, the
    neighborhood bully, and his defense for running
    away (never lose a fight on the first date)
    his false expression of sympathy (putting the
    hamburger down and saying, It must be hard)
    and his suggestion on how to use a polluted
    sunset for Romantic effectiveness.

25
For Further Consideration
  1. Rewrite a section of one of the stories in this
    chapter in a different style. For instance,
    write either Only the Dead Know Brooklyn or
    How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl,
    or Halfie in another dialect or in standard
    English. What is the effect?
  2. Consider the importance of setting to Only the
    Dead Know Brooklyn, Saboteur, and How to
    Date. How do the settings affect the characters
    and their judgments and evaluations?
  3. Compare and contrast the tone of The Rememberer
    and Saboteur. How does the tone reflect theme
    and character?
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Title: Language, Tone, and Style


1
Language, Tone, and Style
8
  • Literature Craft Voice
  • Nicholas Delbanco and Alan Cheuse

2
Definitions
  • Language The words of a story, including syntax
    (how words or other elements of the sentences are
    arranged).
  • Tone The authors attitude toward his or her
    characters or subject matter.
  • Style The characteristic way in which any
    writer uses language. Language and tone with
    other elements, like symbol and irony, create
    style.

3
Language
  • I know that there are many things that can open
    a story, that can start a person working. For me
    its language. Its not an idea.
  • - Amy Hempel

4
Reading for Language
  • The language used in fiction can be lush or lean,
    formal or colloquial, but to be successful it
    must be creative.
  • The language provides a window through which we
    as readers see new worlds, or come to see our own
    world differently.

5
Reading for Language continued
  • To explore an authors use of language, ask the
    following questions.
  • What is being said, and how and why?
  • What effect does the author wish to create
    through language?
  • What effect does the writing have on you?
  • Are there particular words that are important to
    the style and tone of the story?
  • Are there key images that have an impact on the
    style and tone of the story?
  • How would you describe the language chosen by the
    writer?

6
  • Tone is the attitude that the writer lays over
    the story itself.
  • - Richard Ford

7
Reading for Tone
  • What tone of voice can we hear in fiction?
    Consider just some of the possibilities.
  • Serious or comedic?
  • Distant or intimate?
  • Direct or roundabout?
  • Restrained or emotional?
  • Ominous or lighthearted?
  • Straightforward or ironic?

8
Irony
  • Part of detecting tone in a story is the
    recognition of the authors use of irony if
    indeed the author is being ironic.
  • Irony is a difference between what occurs and
    what you expect to occur or between what is said
    and what is meant, and often involves some sort
    of reversal in circumstances of fate.
  • Examples
  • A young man seeks to impress a young woman so he
    buys a new suit, gets a fresh haircut, and
    practices a more sophisticated speech, only to be
    rejected by the girl who wanted a natural sort of
    guy.
  • Oedipus tries desperately to escape his curse by
    leaving his home, but he only hastens its
    fulfillment.

9
Verbal and Dramatic Irony
  • Verbal Irony a person saying one thing and
    meaning another.
  • For example, your neighbor catches you taking out
    the trash in your wrinkled pajamas, with your
    hair askew, and says, Youre looking fabulous.
  • Dramatic Irony a situation in which an author
    or narrator lets the reader know more about a
    situation than a character does.
  • For example, in Kate Chopins Story of an Hour,
    the reader knows that Louise was not overjoyed to
    see her husband return home at the end of the
    story. We know that the doctors are incorrect,
    when they conclude that she had died of joy that
    kills.

10
Style
  • Style the way in which an author tells the
    story, or the characteristic way in which a
    writer uses language and other literary devices,
    including sentence structures, rhythm, imagery,
    symbol, and irony.
  • Style is the verbal identity of the author. Over
    time, authors will develop distinct individual
    voices.
  • On occasion, an author may stray from his
    distinct style to fit a narrative voice. Thomas
    Wolfes characteristic style is marked by
    elegance, polish, a rich vocabulary, and a
    powerful emotional force. This style is at work
    in his most famous novels, Look Homeward Angel
    and You Cant Go Home Again, but not at work in
    Only the Dead Know Brooklyn.

11
  • "You do not create a style. You work, and develop
    yourself your style is an emanation from your
    own being.
  • - Katherine Anne Porter

"Style is as much under the words as in the
words. It is as much the soul as it is the flesh
of a work. - Gustave Flaubert
12
Reading for Style
  • Consider the following questions when trying to
    describe an authors style
  • Is the language lush or lean?
  • Are the sentences long and complex, or short and
    simple?
  • Does the author make use of irony?
  • Does the author make use of symbols?
  • Do the events of the story seem plausible? Could
    they happen in actually?
  • Would you consider the style elegant?
    Hard-boiled? Lyrical? Unadorned? Ornate?
    Self-conscious? Colloquial? Experimental?

13
Language, Tone, and Style in The Rememberer
  • Aimee Bender said that The Rememberer developed
    from a dream. I was going through reverse
    evolution with a friend, and we became dolphins
    and swam around in a tank. About five years
    later, she wrote the story.
  • Tone
  • The Rememberer is told in a tone that might be
    described as flat and dreary with a strong
    undercurrent of sadness. Bender creates tone
    through very simple and direct sentence
    structures, which themselves are often
    rhythmically flat, monotonous, and choppy. Yet
    to relieve the grimness Bender surprises the
    reader with humorous details, frequently
    delivered deadpan, and observations, like her
    chewing whole packs of gum in mere minutes.
  • How does the tone reflect the situation of the
    characters? Their feelings? Does it reflect the
    storys theme?

14
Language in The Rememberer
  • Language
  • Benders diction remains simple throughout the
    story. However, her diction, attention to
    detail, and the narrators contemplations contain
    wonderful surprises for the reader. Consider the
    effect of such details as Bens being kept in a
    glass baking pan, which the narrator later
    calls a cooking boat when she places Ben on a
    baby wave and wonders if the pan will wash up
    on shore for someone to make cookies in. The
    language is simple but the detail, especially
    given its context, adds surprise, humor, and
    sadness all at once.
  • Consider the effect of Benders use of repetition
    in the following and elsewhere he was sad
    about the world He was always sad. Wed sit
    together and be sad and think about being sad and
    sometimes discuss sadness. Dreary? Humorous?
    Revealing of character?
  • It is possible that the narrators use of
    alliteration, repetition, and humor could be a
    way for the narrator to forget her loss and
    escape into prose, thus losing herself and her
    misery in language?
  • Is it also possible that writing becomes a means
    for the narrator to contemplate her loss and
    perhaps reach a fuller understanding of the
    situation.

15
Rememberer continued
  • Consider how The Rememberer fits into the
    following genres
  • Minimalism
  • Minimalism has a rich tradition in American
    literature. Minimalist writing is marked by
    slightly plotted storylines, terse and oblique
    prose, flat and cool-surfaced tones, seemingly
    realistic and even hyperrealistic details, and
    characters often more extrospective than
    introspective. Ernest Hemingway and Raymond
    Carver are often associated with minimalism.
  • Magical Realism or Magic Realism
  • Magical realism is a tendency in the arts,
    especially in painting and fiction, to present
    works with a conventionally realistic surface and
    conventionally realistic elements, but with
    subtle undercurrents of supernatural and mystical
    possibilities, which might draw from myth, dream,
    fantasy, and magic, and go beyond simple
    coincidence. It is as if something magical
    intervenes on the characters and their worlds.
    Other authors associated with magical realism
    include Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia
    Márquez.
  • Consider Benders statement in her Conversation
    on Writing under Fiction and Magic in which
    she mentions magical realism and its imaginative
    leaps as a way to write with more depth and
    perspective.

16
Language, Tone, and Style in Only the Dead Know
Brooklyn
  • Thomas Wolfe experimented with different styles
    and new ways to tell stories. Born in North
    Carolina, Wolfe moved to Brooklyn in 1931. Only
    the Dead Know Brooklyn could only be set in one
    place.
  • Style
  • Wolfe tells this story in a Brooklyn dialect. To
    obtain a better sense of sound, read a section of
    the story aloud. Is Wolfes use of dialect
    effective? Does it seem colorful? Stereotypical?
    Disrespectful? Humorous? Is it a tribute to
    Brooklyns uniqueness and its people?
  • Why is the big guy, an obvious outsider, quoted
    with a Brooklyn accent? Are the tones of the big
    guys speech different from the narrators and
    others?

17
Language, Tone, and Style in Only the Dead Know
Brooklyn
  • Depiction of Brooklyn
  • Brooklyn is as much a character as any of the
    individuals in the story perhaps more so, as
    none of the characters is named. Like the
    dialect of the narrator, Brooklyn is unique,
    rough, and colorful. It is also dangerous,
    diverse, and complex, a place where residents
    learn their surroundings and develop
    resourcefulness not through maps but through
    experience, a place where brawls are commonplace
    and where bartenders keep baseball bats for
    defense. Its various and diverse neighborhoods,
    suggests the narrator, cannot be known in a
    single lifetime. Yet the residents also seem
    provincial, seemingly concerned only about their
    immediate environment, and become overly
    impassioned about minutia.

18
Only the Dead Know Brooklyn continued
  • Contrast and Irony
  • Part of Wolfes style is to use contrast. The
    narrator, for instance, contrasts with the big
    guy in several ways. The narrator sees himself
    as street smart, a man of the world, or at least
    a man of Brooklyn, an experienced man who doesnt
    need a map but relies on his instincts and his
    resourcefulness honed by experience. Yet the
    narrator is actually quite provincial, although
    he kindly takes the big guy, who remains very
    curious to him, under his protective wings.
  • Ironically, the big guy is more adventurous,
    more daring, and more willing to explore strange
    territories than the narrator. The big guy is
    more outgoing, unafraid to ask directions and
    engage strangers in conversation. He
    demonstrates a different kind of toughness.

19
Only the Dead Know Brooklyn continued
  • Significance of Swimming
  • The narrator is proud of how he learned to swim,
    which indicates, he believes, his toughness, his
    resourcefulness, and his ability to survive.
    (His brother pushed him off the docks.) However,
    the big guy is swimming not drowning in
    Brooklyn, as he survives his Brooklyn experience,
    encouraged not by a brother but by his own
    curiosity and confidence.

20
Language, Tone, and Style in Saboteur
  • Ha Jin communicates meaning in Saboteur through
    many different strategies and techniques all of
    which form the style of Saboteur.
  • Point of View
  • Ha Jin tells his story through a third-person
    omniscient narrator, which allows the reader
    access to all the characters thoughts. We see
    Chius somewhat gradual loss of confidence in a
    system which he supported and we see Fenjins
    response to him at the end, through which we can
    infer Ha Jins feelings about Chius act. This
    point of view allows Ha Jin to include the last
    paragraph which brings the story to a shocking
    conclusion. Is Ha Jin at all sympathetic to
    Chiu? Is he angrier at Mao and the state?
  • Tone
  • The story is told in a direct, restrained tone.
    The narrative voice restrains anger and
    bitterness, which are never far from the surface.
    Yet there is also a sense of urgency, as, he
    believes, he has a story that must be told.
    There is no comic relief in the Saboteur.

21
Saboteur continued
  • Symbol (including physical appearance)
  • Ha Jin uses physical appearance to reveal his
    characters and their positions in the culture.
    Both Chiu and his bride are weak reflective
    ultimately of their weak positions in the state,
    despite a life of comparative comfort. Chiu
    suffers from heart disease and hepatitis and his
    wife has pale cheeks, headaches, and perhaps weak
    eyes. The policemen, however, are empowered
    they are stout, tall and of athletic build
    a human version perhaps of the large concrete
    statue of Mao.
  • Since Chiu lectures on acceptable subjects, he
    and his wife live a comfortable life. Among
    other comforts, his television (rare in China at
    the time) reveals his status and privileged
    position. On one professional retreat, Chiu
    was the only one among his colleagues not to be
    affected by the fleas. The fleas are symbolic
    of governmental interference.
  • At the end of the story, when Chiu turns bitter,
    disillusioned, frustrated, and enraged, and with
    his hepatitis finally attacking him, Chiu makes
    up his mind to do something for revenge. On his
    way to the train station with Fenjin, he stops at
    several restaurants to spread his hepatitis
    infection. Fenjin notices that his former
    professor looks ferocious, jaundiced, and
    ugly, reflective of the moral decay of Chiu who
    will make innocent people suffer and die for his
    mistreatment.

22
Saboteur continued
  • Irony
  • The central irony of Saboteur is that despite
    his intellectual accomplishments and his
    privileged status, Chiu is naïve to his
    governments daily practices. Even after his
    arrest, he trusts the government, its justice
    system, and newspapers. Before the chief of the
    bureau, Chiu evokes his privileged status (Im a
    scholar, a philosopher, and expert in dialectical
    materialism) and he demands compensation and a
    letter of apology for his arrest which is
    hardly the threat Chiu believes it to be.
  • Title
  • Saboteur takes on multiple meanings some of
    which are ironic. The term is first applied by
    the policeman at the beginning of the story to
    Chiu for disrupting public order of course,
    it is a false charge. Before the chief of the
    bureau, Chiu calls the policemen saboteurs.
  • By the end of the story, we realize that there
    are several saboteurs Chiu for his final act of
    vengeance, the policemen, the chief of the
    bureau, and ultimately, Mao Zedong for creating
    his totalitarian regime. All sabotage individual
    freedom and justice.

23
Language, Tone, and Style in How to Date a
Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie
  • In How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl,
    Whitegirl, or Halfie, Junot Diaz presents a
    narrator who reveals more about himself than he
    realizes.
  • Language, Tone, and Point of View
  • The narrator writes in colloquial English with
    occasional Spanish words and phrases which reveal
    his background as a Dominican inner-city youth.
    He writes in a self-assured, confident tone with
    occasional lapses which reveal a low self-esteem
    underneath the machismo posturing.
  • The narrator uses his style, which includes mild
    neighborhood vulgarities, to establish
    credibility and to establish further his
    reputation as an experienced and tough man, a
    voice of authority on women.
  • His manual on dating is written in a language,
    tone, and style that might be defined as urban
    teenage bravado. As in most how-to manuals, the
    narrator addresses the reader directly in the
    second person. Would the authenticity and
    effectiveness of the story be compromised if it
    were written in standard English?
  • As part of his style, consider his use of detail.
    Particularly revealing is how the author uses
    government cheese to reveal the narrators
    poverty, youth, and his evaluation of girls from
    different ethnicities.

24
How to Date continued
  • Irony and Characterization
  • Although he is just in high school, the narrator
    presents himself as an experienced man of the
    world, one who knows how to manipulate different
    kinds of young women as well as their parents.
    Readers will find much of what he says to be
    humorous and his advice on how to be smooth,
    ironic. If we read carefully, we can determine
    that he has actually had few, if any, successful
    seductions. In fact, as we read, we become aware
    of his lack of confidence and his insecurity, if
    not his low self-esteem.
  • Consider the humor and irony in several passages
    perhaps his confrontation with Howie, the
    neighborhood bully, and his defense for running
    away (never lose a fight on the first date)
    his false expression of sympathy (putting the
    hamburger down and saying, It must be hard)
    and his suggestion on how to use a polluted
    sunset for Romantic effectiveness.

25
For Further Consideration
  1. Rewrite a section of one of the stories in this
    chapter in a different style. For instance,
    write either Only the Dead Know Brooklyn or
    How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl,
    or Halfie in another dialect or in standard
    English. What is the effect?
  2. Consider the importance of setting to Only the
    Dead Know Brooklyn, Saboteur, and How to
    Date. How do the settings affect the characters
    and their judgments and evaluations?
  3. Compare and contrast the tone of The Rememberer
    and Saboteur. How does the tone reflect theme
    and character?
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