Saturday, November 13, 2010


My sophomores are reading A Separate Peace these days, and I'd like to use the passage which appears below to teach diction and imagery as they relate to tone. However, I'm struggling with using the precise word to describe the tone. What do you think?

Phineas had gotten up unnoticed from his chair. "I don't care," he interrupted in an even voice, so full of richness that it overrode all the others. "I don't care."
I tore myself from the bench toward him. "Phineas--!"
He shook his head sharply, closing his eyes, and then he turned to regard me with a handsome mask of a face. "I just don't care. Never mind," and he started across the marble floor toward the doors.
"Wait a minute!" cried Brinker. "We haven't heard everything yet. We haven't got all the facts!"
The words shocked Phineas into awareness. He whirled as though being attacked from behind. "You get the rest of the facts, Brinker!" he cried. "You get all your facts!" I had never seen Finny crying, "You collect every f---ing fact there is in the world!" He plunged out the doors.
The excellent exterior acoustics recorded his rushing steps and the quick rapping of his cane along the corridor and on the first steps of the marble stairway. Then these separate sounds collided into the general tumult of his body falling clumsily down the white marble stairs (176-177).


At 9:20 AM , Blogger Hedgetoad said...


At 4:25 AM , Blogger Pat said...

As fellow English teacher/basketball coach, I fell in love your blog and want to sign on as follower, but couldn't figure out how. Any suggestions? Might also want to check out my blog for a perspective on international teaching. Best, Pat

At 4:51 AM , Blogger Karen said...

bitter and cynical

here's a list of tone words:

At 5:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dejected or resigned?

At 11:42 AM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

Ms. Hogue, that is the exact list I was looking at when I was planning my lesson!
Pat, I'm not sure how to "join" but thanks for following.

At 6:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd use disdainful. My immediate reaction is that the guy sounds angry. The tone words on the list provided indicate that disdainful is the same as scornful. The Phineas character is claiming indifference, but really he's pissed.

At 6:38 PM , Blogger Erin said...

I have no more tone words to share than those that have already been shared with you, but thanks for reminding me what a wonderful book "A Separate Peace" is!

Best of luck with your lesson!

Erin -

At 3:15 AM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

This is what makes literature great--our analysis can be different. And yes, Erin, A Separate Peace is wonderful.


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