Explication and Tone The Story of an Hour

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ENGL 101:Explication and Tone: Tone for Meaning- Truth Behind the Story
The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin’s 

Your opportunity to practice the first literary concept we discussed in our course, tone (tone of voice). Your task here is to explicate your reading material by focusing on narrator’s narration and the writer’s intention behind this narration.

For instance, in Maupassant’s “Necklace,” we have a 3rd person impersonal narrator whose tone complicates our evaluation of the story’s female character, Loisel. The narrator’s humorous, witty, and mocking tone at the beginning (“as if by a mistake of destiny”) quickly positions the readers above Loisel, leading us to judge her vanity and fantasy with a sense of superiority. However, the narrator also maintains a sympathetic tone of voice towards Loisel and effectively reveals the social forces and restrictions that influence and thereby justify Loisel’s obsession for looks and vanity: “since with women there is neither caste nor rank: and beauty, grace, and charm act instead of family and birth” (34). By looking more closely into the narrator’s use of words, perceptions, and tone and voice, we learn to situate Loisel and her vanity in a larger social context. As a result, we evaluate not only her character itself, but her relationship with the society and how her environment shapes her.

Please conduct a close reading/explication on one of the texts we cover in our class. First, identity the kind of narrator you have in your reading–3rd person, 1st person, or 2nd person? Once you familiarize yourself with the narrator, please identify narrator’s tone and interrogate what kind of perceptions (narrator’s point of view) you find through the narratorial tone. Ultimately, please discuss how the narrator’s narration shapes your reading experience and your own perceptions toward the events and characters. How do the narratorial tone and any other aspect of narration reveal important authorial intentions and messages? In short, you should do the followings for a successful completion of your first essay assignment:

  1. Present your thesis statement in the introduction—narrator’s narration (tone, description, setting, characterization, etc) + authorial intention behind this narration (“Maupassant’s narrator in “Necklace” has a tone of voice that is simultaneously humorous, mocking, critical, and yet sympathetic. This tone of voice is effective to reveal the complex relationship between society and women. Maupassant, through the narrator’s complex and varying tone, illustrates how society’s expectations towards female beauty shape Loisel’s vanity and fantasy. In doing so, Maupassant urges his readers to evaluate Loisel more sympathetically in a larger social context, rather than focusing on her individual traits that might shed negative light on her”)
  2. Conduct a close reading on your text–pay attention to the ways in which narrator introduces scenes, characters, and events. Based on your analysis of the narration, investigate how narrator’s manner of telling conveys specific perceptions about the story (authorial intention) and shapes your reading experience and evaluations of the text.
  3. You will have to engage with textual evidence to prove and support your explication.
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