Diction • Word choice • Words create tone and meaning • Conveys the writer’s attitude • Denotation-literal (dictionary) meaning • Connotation-figurative or emotional meaning
Art is the antidote that can call us back from the edge of numbness, restoring the ability to feel for another. --Barabara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson 2. If we changed the word ‘antidote’ to ‘gift,’ what effect would it have on the meaning of the sentence? 3. How would you classify the diction of this passage? • By using the word ‘antidote,’ what does the author imply about the inability to feel for another?
As I watched, the sun broke weakly through, brightening the rich red of the fawns, and kindled their white spots. • E. B. White, “Twins,” Poems and Sketches of E. B. White
What kind of flame does kindled imply? How does this verb suit the purpose of the sentence? • Would the sentence be strengthened or weakened by changing the sun broke weakly through to the sun burst through? Explain the effect this change would have on the use of the verb kindled. • How would you classify the diction of this passage?
I perceived, as I read, how the collective white man had been actually nothing but a piratical opportunist who used Faustian machinations to make his own Christianity his initial wedge in criminal conquests. First, always “religiously,” he branded “heathen” and “pagan” labels upon ancient non-white cultures and civilizations. The stage thus set, he then turned upon his non-white victims his weapons of war. -Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X
What is the author’s attitude toward the collective white man? • What is the tone of the passage? Circle and discuss the words that reveal the tone of this passage. • How would you classify the diction of the passage?
What is the tone of this passage: what attitude toward Shug, toward men, and toward women underlies the passage? • Walker repeats the phrase, look like a good time, three times in the passage. How does this use of repetition help create the tone of the passage? • How would you characterize the diction of this passage?
Shug come over and she and Sofia hug. Shug say, Girl, you look like a good time, you do. That when I notice that Shug talk and act sometimes like a man. Men say stuff like that to women, Girl, you look like a good time. Women always talk bout hair and health. How many babies living or dead, or got teef. Not bout how some woman they hugging on look like a good time
Imagery • Relates to the five senses • Sight • Sound • Touch • Smell • Taste
Write down the words that reveal the narrator’s attitude about the House of Usher. What word or words would you use to describe the tone of the passage? During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when theclouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, througha singularly dreary tract of country. At length I found myself, as the shades of evening drewon, within view of the melancholy House of Usher . . .I reined my horse to the precipitous brink of a black and lurid tarn that lay in the unruffled luster by the dwelling. . . [with]vacant and eye-like windows. • Passage from Edgar A. Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”