Mood, Tone, Imagery,
Symbolism, and Inference
Not everything is as it seems…
• ELACC8RL4: Determine the meaning of
words and phrases as they are used in a text,
including figurative and connotative meanings;
analyze the impact of specific word choices on
meaning and tone, including analogies or
allusions to other texts.
Tone and Mood
…to support the author’s purpose
TONE is simply the author’s attitude
toward the subject.
You can recognize the tone/attitude by the
language/word choices the author uses.
His language will reveal his
perspective/opinion (that is, whether it is
positive/negative) about the subject.
Tone must be inferred through the use of
descriptive words.
Tone Example
The girls were playing in the pond, splashing each other and
trying to catch fish with their hands. They were having fun, but
kept looking over their shoulders at the looming forest. The long
grass of the field kept moving and they sort of felt like they were
being watched… About a half hour passed and still the girls kept
checking the field for movements. It seemed like a pair of dark
eyes was on them. They even considered going back inside, but
that would mean homework time. So they continued splashing,
but with caution now. Their eyes hardly left the field.
The tone of this passage is ominous, suggesting a little bit of fear or
foreboding. Words like "caution, dark, and looming“ lead readers
to the tone. It is frightening!
Tone: “Where Can They Stay?”
About three million people have to look for a place
to sleep at night. Some homeless people have jobs but
do not earn nearly enough money for both food and
shelter. Some become homeless because they have an
unfortunate accident or lose their job. They do not
have any back-up resources to make it through the
hard times.
The homeless face terrible problems. Many
become victims of violence. Serious health problems
may begin because they are exposed to bad weather
and unclean conditions. Homeless children may miss
the chance to go to school. Worst of all, some cities
pass laws that make it even harder on the homeless.
Tone: “Where Can They Stay”
How would you describe the tone [attitude] of
this author?
a. Pleased
b. Easy Going
c. Serious
MOOD is the overall feelings or emotions that
are created IN THE READER.
The “power of the pen” can move mountains.
Authors “move” their readers’ moods through
their choice of words and level of detail.
During the holidays, my mother's house glittered with
decorations and hummed with preparations. We ate
cookies and drank cider while we helped her wrap bright
packages and trim the tree. We felt warm and excited,
listening to Christmas carols and even singing along
sometimes. We would tease each other about our terrible
voices and then sing even louder.
Mood: Content, happy. How do we know? Words like "warm,
excited, glittered” are used by the author.
Mood: “A Gift in His Shoes”
Donovan and Larry were early for baseball practice.
They decided to run up and down the bleachers to
exercise before the rest of the team arrived.
Larry was first to the top. He whispered to
Donovan, “Look over there.” He pointed to a man
sleeping on the highest, narrow bench of the bleachers.
His pants and shirt were faded, worn, and too large for
his thin frame. One big toe stuck out of a huge hole in
his sock. His scraped-up shoes sat a few feet away.
Donovan whispered, “We should help him out. Let’s
hide something good in his shoes. Then, when he wakes
up, he will have a nice surprise.”
Mood: “A Gift in His Shoes”
How would you describe the mood of this
a. Angry
b. Detached
c. Sympathetic
Sensory details
Imagery (21)
Imagery is the use of language that appeals to
the senses.
• Imagery allows us to perceive a person, place,
object, animal, food, experience or other aspect
of the world exactly as a writer envisions it makes
the writing come alive for the audience.
Ex. Sitting at Prim’s knees, guarding her is the
world’s ugliest cat. Mashed in nose, half of one
ear missing, eyes the color
of rotting squash.
--Suzanne Collins
Why Use Imagery?
There is a BIG difference between:
-It was hot outside today.
-An explosion of heat blasted my face as soon as
I stepped through the door.
Images make things more interesting.
You may be asked what sense
imagery appeals to
Mine is the howl
that chills the spine
in the forest gloom;
mine is the whine.
Mine is the nose
that breathes in fear
when danger's close;
mine is the ear.
Mine is the fur
the huntsman trade;
mine is the fur,
I am afraid
The first stanza
mainly appeals to
the sense of
• A. Hearing
• B. Smell
• C. Taste
• D. Touch
Student Sample: The Earring
A little drop of gold,
Set upon her ear,
Dangling in the Autumn light,
A piece of Sun to wear,
Etched with tiny woven patches,
Snug upon the ear it latches,
Curved in a classy crescent,
Like half the moon sliced out.
Its partner rests in place,
Upon the wooden table,
Studied by a passing crow,
Landing on the old, worn stable.
Guesses about literature
Inference (28)
• An inference is a conclusion that can be
reached about the meaning of a piece of
literature based on the evidence provided in
the writing.
• In other words, it is a guess the reader can
make about the meaning of a piece based on
what the piece says.
To infer…
• We take things we know about life and
combine them with the information we get
from the text
We make inferences in real life
There is no Frigate Like a Book
by: Emily Dickinson
There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry—
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress or Toll—
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul.
Because of Libraries We Can Say These
Things by: Naomi Shihab Nye
She is holding the book close to her body,
carrying it home on the cracked sidewalk,
Down the tangled hill.
If a dog runs at her again, she will use the book as
a shield.
Where can we infer this girl has been?
What can we infer has already happened?
She looked hard among the long lines
of books to find this one.
When they start talking about money,
when the day contains such long and hot places,
She will go inside.
An orange bed is waiting.
Story without corners.
She will have two families.
They will eat at different hours.
What can we infer about her home life?
She is carrying a book past the fire station
and the five and dime.
What this town has not given her
the book will provide; a sheep,
a wilderness of new solutions.
The book has already lived through its
The book has a calm cover, a straight spine.
What can we infer about the neighborhood?
When the step returns to itself,
as the best place for sitting,
and the old men up and down the street
are latching their clippers,
she will not be alone.
She will have a book to open
and open and open.
Her life starts here.
How does she feel about life? Books?
Short, Short Story by --Richard Brautigan
“It's very hard to live in a studio apartment in
San Jose with a man who's learning to play the
violin." That's what she told the police when
she handed them the empty revolver.
Make inferences: Describe what has happened
in your own words. Why did it happen? Who
are the man and woman. Why are the police
there? How does the story end?
Symbolism (29)
Symbolism is using one object to represent
something else
In other words, it is when a thing, person, or
idea stands for a completely different thing,
person, or idea.
Symbolism is all Around Us
Symbols are Used in Advertising
Symbols on the $1 Bill!
Common Symbols in Literature
Doves: Peace
Spring: Birth; youth
Winter: Old age; death
Eagle: Freedom
Skull: Death
Cross Bones: Danger; Death
Water: Birth; life
Rose: Love; beauty
Crown: Royalty
Ring: Love; unity
Circle: Unending; life
Sunrise: birth; new starts
Full Moon: Strangeness;
Passing Storm: new start
Fire: Rage
Keys: discovery; mystery
Storms: Danger
Common Color Symbolism
Green: jealousy; greed; nature
Red: Passion; violence; blood; anger
Blue: Calm; peace
White: Pure; Newly born; innocent
Black: Death; evil
Purple: Wealth; royalty
Grey: Gloom; misery; sadness
Yellow: Caution
Orange: distrust
Nursery Rhymes often have
Ring around the rosie
A pocket full of poesy
Ashes, Ashes
We all fall down!
Symbolism can happen in
Papa died that summer. Everyone came at once
and brought us food…I couldn’t stand it! They
all wore black, black like coal mines that killed
my papa. He didn’t even like black. He liked
all the bright colors of the day. So why were
they wearing black, I wondered.
--The rag coat
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Narrative Poetry - Polk School District