In a short story, tone is the mood setter of the character's personality, situation, or the seriousness of writing. Tone is extremely crucial to any piece of literature because the tone can not only set up the ethos, logos and pathos, but enhance the overall experience for the reader. Without tone in any piece of literature would be monotonous; just a complete dead piece of work. Tone can help the development of the circumstances and the character’s persona by giving clues to the emotions and thinkings of said characters, and thus, giving credibility to the story.One short story that is a perfect example of tone enhancement can be found in this textbook, Literature and Its Writers by Ann Charter and Samuel Charters, would be the Orientation by Daniel Orozco.
In the Orientation, one of the office worker, the main narrator, goes into a series of explanations about the rules, expectations and the co-workers of this new, yet silent, member to this office environment. This is why it is call the Orientation, going over the workplace’s rules and expectations. However, Orozco’s work makes a normal orientation different by using tone to enhance the character’s persona and the story’s setting to make us aware that this is no ordinary office. By revealing the settings, characters and rules, we, the readers, are able to get an idea on how abnormal this workplace is.
The Orientationraises our hair on the back of our necks. From the start, Orozco presents this narrator, the main character that leads this orientation, and gives a glimpse of how this office is different. The author uses certain phrases like ”Ask too many questions, however, and you may be let go.”(46), to let us, the reader, infer the office’s characteristics to be that of a work driven “machine”, much like the narrator himself. Emotionless, monotone, and too well informed, narrator leads the new worker and explains everything in the office, including the other co-workers, without a filter. This filter, in real life, lets us know what to say or not to say in certain situations, yet, here in Orozco’s story, having this unfiltered narrator creates an even more anomalous tone by revealing the setting and the other characters. They introduce Kevin Howard, “He is a serial killer, the one they call Carpet Cutter… We’re not supposed to know that, so do not let on.”(49) . The readers may find this disturbing, how the narrator continues this rant, unaware of how this detail could be alarming, indication how this detail enhance incentive the narrator is. One the other hand, an example that reveals the setting would be the crazy expectations of the work environment. Non chalant expectations like, “If you must make an emergency phone call, ask your supervisor first”(46), and, “If you have a twelve hours of work in your IN box, for example, you must compress that work into the eight-hour day.”(46).An office place where you must ask your supervisors to make an emergency call, can be outrageous some people, and didn't they say that if you ask too many questions, you may be let go? If it is an emergency call, there is no need to ask about permission of it. Also, the working hours of the work is unheard of, cramming a 12 hour workload into a 8 hour day, as if were a working “machines”. The lack of sensitivity and the nonchalant nature of the speaker reveals the tone that is given to the readers, presenting the abnormal working environment.
What makes this short story stand out so much is how Orozco uses this informal tone through his narrator in the Orientation. With the informal and insensitive tone, the speaker was able describe the office and the workers of the true nature of this unusual office.
Orozco, Daniel, et al. “Character and Setting, Daniel Orozco, Orientation .” Literature And Its Writers, 6th ed., Bedford/ St. Martin's, 2013, pp. 46–50.
“Tone.” Literary Devices, Literary Devices, literarydevices.net/tone/. Copyright @ 2018 https://literarydevices.net/tone/#