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Details and Tone
Andrew Kokanoutranon

Details of Tone

Detail: A
Consider: Whenever he was so fortunate as to have him near him a hare that had been kept too long, or a meat pie made with rancid butter, he gorged himself with such violence that his veins swelled, and the moisture broke out on his forehead.
- Thomas Babington Macaulay, “Samuel Johnson”
Discuss:
1.) What effect does the detail (the spoiled hare, the rancid butter, the swollen veins, the sweaty forehead) have on the reader?

The details in the passage intensify the images. The smell of rancid butter and the thought of swollen veins give off a sense of disgust and curiosity.

2.) How would the meaning of the sentence be changed by ending it after himself?

The meaning of the sentence would not be as descriptive and aggressive as the last part of the sentence. The effects would not be as great without the details of his facial expression and his aggression towards the pie.

Detail: B
Consider: An old man, Don Tomasito, the baker, played the tuba. When he blew into the huge mouthpiece, his face would turn purple and his thousand wrinkles would disappear as his skin filled out.
- Alberto Alvaro Rios, “ The Iguana Killer”
Discuss:
1.) The first sentence is a general statement. How does the second enrich and intensify the first?

The second sentence enriches and intensifies the first statement by adding vivid details so the reader can picture the image of a man playing a tuba. A purple face and disappearing wrinkles show that the old man is playing with passion.

2.) Contrast the second sentence with the following.
When he blew the tuba, his face turned purple and his cheeks puffed out.
Which sentence more effectively expresses an attitude toward Tomasito? What is that attitude and how is it communicated?

The original sentence in the passage best fits Tomasito because phrase “thousands of wrinkles would disappear as his skin filled out” fits the characteristics of an old man better than “his cheeks puffed out.”

Detail: C
Consider: CHARLEY(to WILLY): Why must everybody like you? Who liked J.P. Morgan? Was he impressive? In a Turkish bath he’d look like a butcher. But with his pockets on he was very well liked. Now listen, Willy, I know you don’t like me, and nobody can say I’m in love with you, but I’ll give you a job because – just for the hell of it, put it that way. Now what do you say?
- Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman
Discuss:
1.) Who was J.P. Morgan? What is a Turkish bath? What picture comes to mind when someone is said to look like a butcher? How do these details contribute to the point Charley is trying to make?

I think that J.P Morgan is a wealthy man who everyone likes when he gives out money. A Turkish bath is steam room like a sauna. I picture a fat man, sweat, and blood stained clothes when I think of a butcher. Charley is trying to say that everyone likes you when you give out money no matter what you look like.

2.) How would the passage be different if Charley said J.P. Morgan would look like a baker in a Turkish bath?

The image of a baker is not as gruesome as the image of a butcher. A baker is clean and a butcher is dirty and has a apron stained with blood. The point that Charley is trying to make wont be as clear.


Detail: D
Consider: To those who saw him often he seemed almost like two men: one the merry monarch of the hunt and banquet and procession, the friend of children, the patron of every kind of sport; the other the cold, acute observer of the audience chamber or the Council, watching vigilantly, weighing arguments, refusing except under the stress of great events to speak his own mind.
- Winston Churchill, “ King Henry VIII,” Churchill’s History of the English- Speaking People’s
Discuss:
1.) Churchill draws attention to the contrasting sides of Henry VIII through detail. How is the impact of this sentence strengthened by the order of the details’ presentation?

The order of the contrasting sides of Henry intensifies from being a playful man to a cold man. Churchill included details of a man who has two sides, one being lighthearted and one being a hostile man.

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