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The Concept of Tone in Literature

            When someone is interested in finding a new book to read, they have several options to look into to help them decide on a book. They may search for book's synopsis online or maybe ask a friend for a recommendation. One that seems to not be sought as often is the bit of text usually seen on the back cover of a book. Here, the author tries, in a paragraph, to persuade that passerby to purchase their book and read it. The Greek philosopher Aristotle separated the ways of persuasion into three categories – Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. The way a writer sets the tone in their stories is the best technique to draw the reader in and read everything. In James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper", both authors incorporate vivid language and numerous sensory details to appeal to the reader's emotions and therefore reel them in.
             James Baldwin, having lived as a gay, black man in the time that he did, fully understands the meaning of discrimination and oppression. Anyone fan of his works can describe the tone of which his writings are set. Baldwin's word choice makes it so the reader consistently feels melancholic. "Sonny's Blues" is a sad story that is narrated by Sonny's brother who witnesses the negative changes that Sonny has undergone over his life. When Baldwin describes things that are not happy, each word is heavy with feeling. This sense of melancholy and even dread is seen when Sonny's brother describes the housing project that he lives in: We live in a housing project. It hasn't been up long. A few days after it was up it seemed uninhabitably new, now of course, it's already rundown. It looks like a parody of the good, clean, faceless life – God knows the people who live in it do their best to make it a parody. The beat-looking grass lying around isn't enough to make their lives green [.] The big windows fool no one, they aren't big enough to make space out of no space.

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