Setting the Mood
Mood = emotional atmosphere created for the
audience of a text
Setting = description of the time and place of a
When we read “Popular Mechanics” by Raymond Carver
(the baby story), we paid particular attention to the first paragraph which
did two important things: it presented us with information on the
setting and it also “set the mood” of the story.
of a story, in fact, is very instrumental in helping an author set up the
mood of his/her story simply because it usually involves so much
description. Read the following setting description from Warriors Don’t
Cry and then answer the questions below:
Mother and I moved through the streets in silence, listening to the radio
newsman’s descriptions of the crowds gathering at Central High. I noticed
some of our neighbors standing on the sidewalk, many more than were
usually out this time of day.
“That’s strange,” Mama mumbled
as she waved to people who didn’t bother waving back. “No matter, maybe
they didn’t see me.” Our neighbors had always been so friendly, but now
they peered at us without their usual smiles. Then I saw Kathy and Ronda,
two of my school friends, standing with their mothers. Anxious to catch
their attention, I waved out the window with a loud, “Hi.” Their
disapproving glances matched those of the adults.
“I didn’t do anything to them,”
I said, not understanding their reason.
“Then you don’t have anything to
be concerned about.” Mother Lois maneuvered through the unusually heavy
traffic. “I don’t know where all the cars could have come from,” she said.
We both craned our necks, curious about all the unfamiliar cars and people.
Certainly there had never before been so many white people driving down the
streets of our quiet, tree-lined neighborhood…
Some mood words: calm,
shocked, tense, foreboding, joyful, anxious, exciting, frightening
- Keeping the WHOLE passage in mind, decide what the
ONE best word is to describe the mood of this setting. You might
want to use the list of sample mood words above and a green dictionary
from the back cabinet to make up your mind.
- What words/phrases in the passage help create that
mood? Choose at least 5 words/phrases (not whole sentences) from
throughout the passage and list them here: ________________________
- Choose ONE of the words/phrases you listed above.
Explain HOW that word/phrase helps create the mood of the passage.
Write in complete sentences. _________________________________
- On the back of this paper, write a sample setting
paragraph of your own (minimum of 5 complete sentences). Pick a REALISTIC
location, perhaps someplace you visit everyday. Describe this place/time
in detail so your audience can picture it. Also use vivid descriptions
(adjectives and similes; might want to use your color list for ideas) to
convey one particular mood. At the end of your paragraph, write
the mood you were trying to create.