Tone and Point of View: Lesson Seven

Section A: Writer’s Tone

Part One: Sample Questions.

  • Which of the following best describes the tone of the piece?
  • Which of the statements best describes the tone of the author?

Part Two: But What Does “Tone” Actually Mean?

When an author writes a passage, they have a certain tone or point of view about the piece. To understand these elements, it’s important that we understand the meanings.

To understand an author’s tone, let’s discuss how we use and understand tone in real life. When you talk to your friend about something you feel passionate about, like politics or religion, you come to the conversation feeling a certain way. The way you feel about the subject can be heard in the tone of your voice. If you are passionate about a topic, you may talk louder, faster, or in a higher pitch. After all, you are trying to make a point and you want to be heard, right? Therefor, we understand your tone to be a reflection of your opinions.

To recap, tone is the way the author feels about the topic they are writing about.

””> Unlike when we’re in a conversation, when we read a passage, we cannot physically hear an author’s tone. Additionally, an author doesn’t come out and tell readers their tone. So, to find the tone, we have to look at other parts of the story. To determine the tone, we must ask ourselves, “How would the author read this aloud if they were here?” Answering this question helps us to better match our opinions of the author’s tone with the test-answers provided. 

””> It is also important that we notice the author’s word choice and the expressions they use.

  1. Look at the word choice: Are the descriptive words pleasant or does the author use words with a negative connotation?
  2. Look at the expressions: Do their opinions about the situation seem positive or do they seem to be feeling negative about a situation? 

Part Three:
Practice Questions

1. Why is tone an essential element to the text?

  1. It tells readers exactly why the piece was written?
  2. It helps to explain the emotions of the author and also add an emotional impact to the passage.
  3. It gives us clues about the main character’s background.

Answer: It gives us clues about the main character’s background.


Part One: What these questions might look like on a test.

  • Which of the following best summarizes the author’s point of view?
  • From whose point of view is this written? 

Part Two: Understanding “Point of View”

When I hold a conversation with someone, I have a specific point of view in the conversation. Because of my background and experiences, I have certain opinions about the topic that will be discussed. Sometimes, my point of view may be liberal or conservative. My point of view in a conversation also tells how and why I feel what I do about a certain topic.

””> These same ideas apply to a reading passages. When an author writes a passage, they have their own point of view about the topic. Just like us, their point of view is affected by their background and past experiences. All of these things effect the greater meaning of the passage because in understanding the point of view, we can determine where the author is coming from. When we know the author’s point of view, we can apply that information to other elements of the piece to make greater literary connections.

Part Three: Practice Questions

“I have a dream” Martin Luther King Jr.

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

1. Which is the following best describes Martin Luther King, Jr’s tone throughout the speech?

A. Outraged and angry
B. Violent and agitated
C. Inspired and hopeful

Answer:C. Inspired and hopeful

2. Of the options below, who would be most likely to agree with the speakers point of view?

A. A civil rights activist
B. A member of the KluKluxKlan
C. A conservative member of Congress in 1963

Answer:A. A civil rights activist </strong.

3. Which details about Martin Luther King, Jr would best help us to understand his point of view?

A. He was born the second son into a large family.
B. He was married young and began his family at a young age.
C. He was a minister in the South during the Civil Rights Movement

Answer: C. He was a minister in the South during the Civil Rights Movement