Analyzing Tone and Mood

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Ben Ling
Mr. Jensen
Honors English 11
12 February 2007

Their Eyes Were Watching God: Tone/Mood Analysis

She got up that morning with the firm determination to go on in there and have a good talk with Jody. But she sat a long time with the walls creeping in on her. Four walls squeezing her breath out. Fear lest he depart while she sat trembling upstairs nerved her and she was inside the room before she caught her breath. She didn’t make the cheerful, casual start that she had thought out. Something stood like an oxen’s foot on her tongue, and then too, Jody, no Joe, gave her a ferocious look. A look with all the unthinkable coldness of outer space. She must talk to a man who was ten immensities away. (Hurston 84.8)

In the novel by Zora Neale Hurston, There Eyes Were Watching God, the protagonist, a woman named Janie, sets out to search for her voice of selfhood and empowerment. In this passage, the author depicts a setting where Janie is struggling within herself to confront her once overpowering husband, a dying older Jody. The deterioration of Jody gives Janie an opportunity to find her voice. Janie’s newfound confidence is paralleled with waking in the morning, and thus Hurston illustrates how Janie rouses from a confined environment to express herself. After Janie wakes, she begins to pity Jody, but after a while she fears that Jody might die before she can express her emotions to him. Jody does not Janie want to come in his room and see him in his deteriorating state, but Janie does so anyways. As this happens, Janie is given a cold look by Jody. Tone/Mood:

Hurston chooses a selection of words that enable different connotations to be felt throughout the passage. These connotations are at first ones of confidence and exuberance, but then they become more apprehensive. The author speaks in an overall tone of distress and anxiousness. As Janie wakes up, Hurston describes Janie’s present frame of mind as one with “firm” determination....
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