SH Question #2: Tone and Mood

by Washington Irving

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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SH Question #2: Tone and Mood

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Oct 18, 2005 8:32 am

How does Irving set the tone and mood of the story?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Liz » Tue Oct 18, 2005 12:25 pm

Tough question, DITHOT!

After he tells of the legend of the ghost of the Hessian trooper, he causes us to doubt up front if the tale he is about to tell is really true:

“It is remarkable that the visionary propensity I have mentioned is not confined to the native inhabitants of the valley, but is unconsciously imbibed by every one who resides there for a time. However wide awake they may have been before they entered that sleepy region, they are sure, in a little time, to inhale the witching influence of the air, and begin to grow imaginative, to dream dreams, and see apparitions.”

I hope I'm on the right track here. :-?
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The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Oct 18, 2005 1:07 pm

Nah, not so hard.. you get my drift.

I thought this part at the beginning of the story sets the stage for the reader to be scared, or wary maybe is a better word:


A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place was bewitched by a high German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his pow-wows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs; are subject to trances and visions; and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole nine fold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.

And the description of that table full of food! Off to eat lunch...
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby nebraska » Tue Oct 18, 2005 2:07 pm

Yet, he seems to imply that much of the scary stuff that goes in is in the people's imaginations, while he goes on and on about the beauty of the land and the bounty of the harvest and so on and so forth....The movie version had a terrifyingly real aspect to all the dark and ghostly matters while Irving tends to make more light of it. That surprised me on this reading.

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Unread postby Betty Sue » Tue Oct 18, 2005 3:24 pm

Yes, he does seem to take the possible horrors of the place lightly as he starts out by painting an idyllic picture of the countryside: "If ever I should wish for a retreat, whither I might steal from the world and its distractions, and dream quietly away the remnant of a troubled life, I know of none more promising than this little valley."
But this mixed message makes the story more interesting. He seems to be having fun with giving the area and its inhabitants a mysterious air instead of writing a really devastatingly scary story. So the mood and tone seem to me to be a painstakingly written horror story with a whimsical tone.
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Unread postby Bix » Tue Oct 18, 2005 4:14 pm

Could you tell my boss was back today? But even though I couldn't log in to post this morning, I had some time to pore through the story and guess which passages I had marked? The very ones that DITHOT, Liz and Betty Sue posted. He definitly sets up the tone of superstition and eeriness in those passages.

Again, I think the very words he chooses are so important to creating the mood and tone in the story. He does seem to alternate between the details of daily life described so loving and lushly and the foreboding, somber words he chooses as he sets us up for Ichabod's encounter. And I agree, that sense of bemusement at what is taking place is always there, too.

Even the order in which events unfold seems to help set the mood and tone, the contrast of a happy scene with a dark scene again and again. Now that I am trying to put this in words, I'm having trouble. But I agree it is a painstakingly crafted tale.
Live! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! ~Auntie Mame

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Oct 18, 2005 4:22 pm

Like you, Bix, I have had to work way too much today! :banghead: Just quickly though I think he strikes a balance between horror and humor and sets the reader up that way for the end of the story. ( :shhh: Back to work...)
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby OldLady » Tue Oct 18, 2005 6:45 pm

Ditto the :thumbsdown: to real life getting in the way of my Zone life! :mort1: It's 5:25 and I just finished reports for tomorrow's meetings.

Yeesh, I didn't know there'd be homework on something sounding as funky as the ONBC! While I had a general idea of mood and tone, I thought I'd check the Write Source 2000 reference that our students use.

Tone is defined as "the writer's attitude or feelings toward the subject" which can be "serious, sarcastic, objective, humorous, etc". Overall, it seems that Irving's use of vocabulary sets a very educated, "high" tone. Certainly, he emphasizes the mystery of the region, but he seems extremely fond of Ichabod. While the chase by the disguised Brom was scary, I thought Irving gave it the same "wink-wink" as Van Brunt's other escapades.

My reference defined "mood" as the feeling(s) a reader gets from a story. The plot is certainly a roller-coaster as we get to know Ichabod, are hopeful for his wooing of Katrina, disappointed at her rebuff and horrified at Brom's "prank". Indeed, the best revenge may be living well if we believe that the "tall, dry-looking old gentleman with beeetling eyebrows" is Ichabod, become a lawyer and made a justice of the Ten Pound Court.

That would be nice.
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Unread postby Johnny Fan » Tue Oct 18, 2005 6:49 pm

Bix, I agree with everything you said. I think that Irving's choice of words strongly contribute to the story's tone and mood. I also noticed the contrast between light and dark moments in his writing. It definitely makes for a very interesting read, because when reading the story for the first time, it's not clear what direction the story will go in. I was especially surprised by the ending of the story, but I won't go into much detail regarding that, in case we discuss it later on in the week.
"Breath. We tend not to think much about it. Each one is a blessing--every inhale, every exhale." -Johnny Depp

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Oct 18, 2005 10:58 pm

OL, sorry about the homework :yikes: but thanks for a great answer! We will be moving into more familiar territory soon... ;-)

Johnny Fanatic, we will get into the end of the story. You can start that 10 page essay paper tonight! :mwahaha: :lol:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Johnny Fan » Wed Oct 19, 2005 8:02 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:OL, sorry about the homework :yikes: but thanks for a great answer! We will be moving into more familiar territory soon... ;-)

Johnny Fanatic, we will get into the end of the story. You can start that 10 page essay paper tonight! :mwahaha: :lol:


:yikes:

:lol: ;-) Thanks for letting me know that we'll be discussing the ending, DITHOT. I'm looking forward to it! :cool:
"Breath. We tend not to think much about it. Each one is a blessing--every inhale, every exhale." -Johnny Depp


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