Tone, Mood and Style

Tone and Mood

Tone: The writer’s attitude toward the subject; a writers tone can be serious, sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek, solemn, objective, etc.

The overall feeling, or effect, created by a writer’s use of words. This feeling may be serious, mock-serious, humorous, satiric, and so on.

Mood: The atmosphere that is created in the work.

A good description of the difference between tone and mood can be found here.

Think of many words as you can to describe tone:

Gloomy, Playful, Clinical, Ironic, matter of fact,…

Task 1

Consider the following aspects in Life is Beautiful:

  • The series of coincidences at the beginning of the film
  • Joshua’s life in the camp
  • The thoughts and feelings of non-Jewish Italians
  • Treatment of authority figures

For each element describe:

  1. Benigni’s treatment of the aspect
  2. The atmosphere this creates in the film

As usual, use specific examples to support your ideas.

Task 2


I was brought up in a nearly all Aboriginal community.

There were a couple of white bosses and their families.

The first time I sever spoke to a whie person,

A kindergarten teacher, I think,

she came up to me,

‘Hello’, she said.

This really made me think.

Boy, I was thinkin’, she can talk our language

(which was English).

Most of the language of my ancestors is nearly dead.

There are only a few words left.

I thought she was talking our language

because I had never talked to a white person before her.

So how was I supposed to know who language was whose.

Boy was I slow.

Gundy Graham

Compare the tone of the following chapters of the text:

Chapter 2:

Chapter 9:

Chapter 11:

Chapter 12:

Chapter 14:

Chapter 17:

Identifying Tone and Mood

Both tone and mood can be identified by the diction (word choice), syntax (sentence construction) and rhythm amongst other features. Here are some examples:

Style: how the author uses words, phrases, and sentences to form his or her ideas. Style is also thought of as the qualities and characteristics that distinguish one writer’s work from the work of others.

In his article on If This is a Man, Paul Byrne describes Levi’s writing style as “clear and dispassionate”.

1. Can you think of a reason for this impassive style?

The article goes on to describe an interview conducted by the American author, Phillip Roth. In an interview conducted by Roth, Levi states that his writing is “that of the weekly report commonly used in factories: it must be precise, concise, and written in a language comprehensible to everybody in the industrial hierarchy”.

2. Find evidence of this “weekly report” style in the text.

3. Skim back over the chapter “This Side of Good and Evil”. What is unusual about the structure/style of this chapter? How is this fitting given the topic? You might like to add a description of tone and mood here too.

4. Can you find examples in the text where Levi writes passionately and with emotion?

5. Comment on how Levi’s style seems at first glance to contrast the anticipated mood of the text. Comment on why this style seems to have the opposite effect.

Writers Inc., 1996

One Response to “Tone, Mood and Style”

  1. faiza anum December 16, 2012 at 7:45 AM #

    marvellous job

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