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Point of View Determining Tone - Invisible Man, Prologue and Midnight and I’m Not Famous Yet

Uploaded by KyraDean on Oct 29, 2002

Over the time span we have studied, authors have used ideas of realism, women’s roles, and human qualities to guide their works. As we have entered into twentieth century readings, however, writers have begun using more technical methods to channel their writings, both to capture readers’ interests and better relay their messages. In many of our recently read works, several authors use the first person point of view to set distinct tones and attitude within their stories.

In Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man, Prologue”, the title character voices narration in the first person. This method gives the story a simple matter-of-fact tone, in which he also shows passion and his innermost thoughts. The Invisible Man says, “I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, or flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind” (1884). Here Ellison keeps the language uncomplicated, setting the initial tone. His tone changes zealously when he says, “Oh yes, I kicked him! And in my outrage I got out my knife and prepared to slit his throat” (1885). Finally, he concludes with a more subtle tone when he reveals his fears and weaknesses, “But I shirked at that responsibility…I was a coward” (1891).

Changes in the tone of Barry Hannah also influence his work in “Midnight and I’m Not Famous Yet”. Hannah’s narrator speaks in the first person, making him more believable and revealing his feelings of passion and pride. He says, “This ARVN fellow knocked the shit out of his buddy’s head turning the gun to zap the running man…I never saw a fat Cong. So I screamed out in Vietnamese” (2265). He talks about historically factual information regarding the Vietnam War and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, establishing his ethos. Later, referring to American golf pro John Whitelaw, he ascertains personal passion when he says, “It made me love America to know he was in it, and I hadn’t loved anything for nigh three years then” (2267). He lastly sounds proud, “I’d killed so many gooks. I’d killed then with machine guns, mortars, howitzers, knives, wire, me and my boys” (2270). This statement can be interpreted as nothing other than great pride, found in the narrator’s voice.

A writer’s tone is almost always the...

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Uploaded by:   KyraDean

Date:   10/29/2002

Category:   Literature

Length:   2 pages (455 words)

Views:   2166

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