Use of Tone, Irony and Humor in The Hammon and the Beans
Ernest Hemingway once explained, "A writer's problem does not change. He himself changes and the world he lives in changes but his problem remains the same. It is always how to write truly and having found what is true, to project it in such a way that it becomes a part of the experience of the person who reads it." The attitude and "projection" with which the author creates a story is the tone. A difficult aspect of writing to master, tone is one that transitions a piece of writing from satisfactory to exemplary. In The Hammon and the Beans, Americo Paredes incorporates tone in a manner that allows the reader to understand the two-sided situation because the characters are living happy yet troublesome lives. Through including contradictory statements, irony, and comedy in the story, Paredes displays his ability to utilize tone in order to construct a complex work with pure grace.
Opposition is an important undertone present in The Hammon and the Beans. Throughout the entire story, Paredes integrates contradictory statements which are used for two purposes. The first usage of these argumentative ideas is to clearly depict the setting of the story for the reader. In the first paragraph, the grandfather's house is described as, "... a big frame house painted a dirty yellow," that was in, "... a quiet neighborhood at least, too far from the center of town for automobiles and too near for musical, night-roaming drunks (p. 274)." In these two descriptions of the setting, there are contradictions because a big house is usually positive, while dirtiness is negative (although yellow itself is not normall...
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...hich contributes to his overall impression of the story. In adding a comical tone to the story, the author gives the reader the ability to relate to, and better understand, the situation in which the characters are involved, because it is pure human nature to laugh.
Tone is an advanced element of writing, that when effectively incorporated into a work, can make it exceptional, and one certainly worth reading. The Hammon and the Beans is an example of a story in which tone is used extraordinarily well by including opposition among statements and characters, thought-provoking irony, and sensitive humor. Paredes entices the reader to share the emotions of the characters by projecting them in a subtle manner. As a result of becoming involved, the reader can more completely comprehend the lives of the characters, from their difficult times to those of pure joy.
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