Conclusions from the text?

Voice in Stories: Monologues
This mini-unit is about voice in English. You will be asked to read a number of texts and
reflect on the topic of voice.
What is voice?
In Writing with Voice, Tom Romano defines voice as "the writer’s presence on the page.
It is the sense we have while reading that someone occupies the middle of our mind, the
sense we have while writing that something or someone is whispering in our ear." (50).
One method that Harry Noden recommends in Image Grammar to demonstrate voice in
writing is a form of imitation he calls the Van Gogh approach. This approach introduces
students to similar stories, such as "Little Red Riding Hood" or "Humpty Dumpty," written
in contrasting styles. The story details stay the same, but the way the story is told, or the
voice of the story, changes. The benefits in having students note the contrasts and how
they contribute to the overall style and voice of a piece are numerous. First, students
begin to experiment with voice in their own writing. Second, they begin to look at how
their favorite authors distinguish themselves and begin to compare one author's style to
another. Finally, according to Noden, students "discover how grammatical choices
characterize an author's craft" (79).
We can create a voice by the words we choose for the characters (what they say, their
tone, and their attitude) or for the narration. How a scene or event is described can also
reveal to us the picture the writer is trying to paint for us and what we imagine the
narrator is trying to say. It is important to point out that the writer is purposefully creating
a narrator's voice, a voice with a distinct point-of-view, perspective, and attitude. It may
be a very neutral, objective voice, but it is intentional.
We can also understand fiction (and nonfiction) pieces that we read, watch, or hear by
examining the characters' speech, tone, and attitude as well as by the narration.
We will begin by looking at monologues to get a better understanding of how a writer can
develop a voice. In the monologues provided, complete the chart on what we can learn
about the character.
Voice Chart: Monologue
What is the mood
of the monologue?
What words reveal
the monologue’s
How does this help
our understanding of
the text?
What kind of
language does the
character use?
How does this affect
our impression of the
Are we supposed to Why do you think
like or dislike this
Conclusions from
the text?
A monologue from the play
by: Alice Gerstenberg
MRS. PRINGLE: I shall go mad! I'll never entertain again--never--never--people ought to
know whether they're coming or not--but they accept and regret and regret and accept-they drive me wild. This is my last dinner party--my very last--a fiasco--an utter fiasco! A
haphazard crowd--hurried together--when I had planned everything so beautifully--now
how shall I seat them--how shall I seat them? If I put Mr. Tupper here and Mrs. Conley
there then Mrs. Tupper has to sit next to her husband and if I want Mr. Morgan there-Oh! It's impossible--I might as well put their names in a hat and draw them out at
random--never again! I'm through! Through with society--with parties--with friends--I wipe
my slate clean--they'll miss my entertainments--they'll wish they had been more
considerate--after this, I'm going to live for myself! I'm going to be selfish and hard--and
unsociable--and drink my liquor myself instead of offering it gratis to the whole town!--I'm
through--Through with men like Oliver Farnsworth!--I don't care how rich they are! How
influential they are--how important they are! They're nothing without courtesy and
consideration--business--off on train--nonsense--didn't want to come--didn't want to meet
a sweet, pretty girl--didn't want to marry her--well, he's not good enough for you!--don't
you marry him! Don't you dare marry him! I won't let you marry him! Do you hear? If you
tried to elope or anything like that, I'd break it off--yes, I would--Oliver Farnsworth will
never get recognition from me!--He is beneath my notice! I hate Oliver Farnsworth!
A monologue by Paul Laurence Dunbar
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Modern Literature for Oral Interpretation. Ed.
Gertrude E. Johnson. New York: The Century Co., 1
I never shall furgit the night when father hitched up Dobbin,
An' all us youngsters clambered in an' up the road went bobbin'
To school where we was kep' at work in every kind o' weather,
But where that night a spellin'-bee was callin' us together.
'Twas one of heaven's banner nights, the stars was all a-glitter,
The moon was shinin' like the hand o' God had jest then lit her.
The ground was white with spotless snow, the blast was sort o' stingin';
But underneath our roundabouts, you bet our hearts was singin'.
That spellin'-bee had be'n the talk o' many a precious moment,
The youngsters all was wild to see jes' what the precious show meant,
An' we whose years was in their teens was little less desirous
O' gittin' to the meetin' so's our sweethearts could admire us.
So on we went so anxious fur to satisfy our mission
That father had to box our ears, to smother our ambition.
But boxin' ears was too short work to hinder our arrivin',
He jest turned roun' an smacked us all, an' kep' right on a-drivin'.
Well, soon the schoolhouse hove in sight, the winders beamin' brightly;
The sound o' talkin' reached our ears, and voices laffin' lightly.
It puffed us up so full an' big 'at I'll jest bet a dollar,
There wa'n't a feller there but felt the strain upon his collar.
So down we jumped an' in we went ez sprightly ez you make 'em,
But somethin' grabbed us by the knees an' straight began to shake 'em.
Fur once within that lighted room, our feelin's took a canter,
An' scurried to the zero mark ez quick ez Tam O'Shanter.
'Cause there was crowds o' people there, both sexes an' all stations;
It looked like all the town had come an' brought all their relations.
The first I saw was Nettie Gray, I thought that girl was dearer
'N' gold; an' when I got a chance you bet I aidged up near her.
An' Farmer Dobbs' girls was there, the one 'at Jim was sweet on,
An' Cyrus Jones an' Mandy Smith an' Faith an' Patience Deaton.
Then Parson Brown an' Lawyer Jones were present--all attention,
An' piles on piles of other folks too numerous to mention.
The master rose and briefly said: "Good friends, dear brother Crawford,
To spur the pupils' minds along, a little prize has offered.
To him who spells the best tonight--or't may be "her"--no tellin'-He offers ez a jest reward, this precious work on spellin."
A little blue-backed spellin'-book with fancy scarlet trimmin',
We boys devoured it with our eyes--so did the girls an' women.
He held it up where all could see, then on the table set it,
An' ev'ry speller in the house felt mortal bound to get it.
At his command we fell in line, prepared to do our dooty,
Outspell the rest an' set 'em down, an' carry home the booty.
'Twas then the merry times began, the blunders, an' the laffin',
The nudges an' the nods an' winks an' stale good-natured chaffin'.
Ole Uncle Hiram Dane was there, the clostest man a-livin',
Whose only bugbear seemed to be the dreadful fear o' givin'.
His beard was long, his hair uncut, his clothes all bare an' dingy;
It wasn't 'cause the man was pore, but jest so mortal stingy.
An' there he sot by Sally Riggs a-smilin' an' a-smirkin',
An' all his children lef' to home a-diggin' an' a-workin'.
A widower he was, an' Sall was thinkin' 'at she'd wing him;
I reckon he was wond'rin' what them rings o' hern would bring him.
An' when the spellin'-test commenced, he up an' took his station,
A-spellin' with the best o' them to beat the very nation.
An' when he'd spell some youngsters down, he'd turn to look at Sally,
An' say: "The teachin' nowadays can't be o' no great vally."
But true enough the adage says, "Pride walks in slipp'ry places,"
Fur soon a thing occurred that put a smile on all our faces.
The laffter jest kep' ripplin' roun' an' teacher couldn't quell it,
Fur when he give out "charity" ole Hiram couldn't spell it.
But laffin's ketchin' an' it throwed some others off their bases,
An' folks 'u'd miss the very word that seemed to fit their cases.
Why, fickle little Jessie Lee come near the house upsettin'
By puttin' in a double "kay" to spell the word "coquettin'."
An' when it come to Cyrus Jones, it tickled me all over-Him settin' up to Mandy Smith an' got sot down on "lover."
But Lawyer Jones of all gone men did shorely look the gonest,
When he found out that he'd furgot to put the "h" in "honest."
An' Parson Brown, whose sermons were too long for toleration,
Caused lots o' smiles by missin' when they give out "condensation."
So one by one they giv' it up--the big words kep' a-landin'
Till me an' Nettie Gray was left, the only ones a-standin',
An' then my inward strife began--I guess my mind was petty-I did so want that spellin' book; but then to spell down Nettie
Jest sort o' went ag'in my grain--I somehow couldn't do it,
An' when I git a notion fixed, I'm great on stickin' to it.
So when they giv' the next word out--I hadn't orter tell it,
But then 'twas all fur Nettie's sake--I missed so's she could spell it.
She spelt the word, then looked at me so lovin'-like and mello',
I tell you 't sent a hundred pins a-shootin' through a fello'.
O' course I had to stand the jokes an' chaffin' of the fello's,
But when they handed her the book I vow I wasn't jealous.
We sung a hymn, an' Parson Brown dismissed us like he orter,
Fur, la! he'd learned a thing or two an' made his blessin' shorter.
'Twas late an' cold when we got out, but Nettie liked cold weather,
An' so did I, so we agreed we'd jest walk home together.
We both wuz silent, fur of words we nuther had a surplus,
'Till she spoke out quite sudden like, "You missed that word on purpose."
Well, I declare it frightened me; at first I tried denyin',
But Nettie, she jest smiled an' smiled, she knowed that I was lyin'.
Sez she: "That book is yourn by right"; sez I: "It never could be-I--I--you__ah--" an' there I stuck, an', well, she understood me.
So we agreed that later on when age had giv' us tether,
We'd jine our lots an' settle down to own that book together.
I'll Have What She's Having
By Karen Jeynes
The Narwaiter is the narrator of the play - and a waiter at an expensive bistro in Cape
Town, South Africa.
It was a typical day at the V&A Waterfront. 10 000 fish swam in the harbour. 5000
tourists thronged the malls, clicking 5987 cameras. 4000 credit cards were swiped at the
478 retail outlets. 2000 seagulls chided each other, enjoying target practice on the 1946
cars and tour busses (bonus points for bald heads). 1000 cups each of coffee, beer, tea
and Coke sustained the teenagers lusting after romance and a quick kiss, the twenty
somethings lusting after love and a quick shag, the thirty somethings lusting after
acceptance and a quick romance - followed by a ring, a commitment and a mortgage the forty somethings lusting after companionship and a quick power nap, the fifty
somethings lusting after admiration and a quick affair, and the over sixties lusting after
their youth and a quick bargain. 500 cleaners cleaned, 50 security guards guarded and
190 car guards stood about aimlessly in the car park. 300 different ringtones mingled
with the cries of 42 taxi gaartjies. 150 cruise boats gawked at 52 seals with only 33
people puking their expensive linefish back from whence it came. 60 anniversary
couples, 43 birthdays, 32 first dates, 19 break ups. 12 cinemas pumped American
values while 7 buskers sold African culture to Americans and over in the corner... you
knew there had to be one... 1 mime.
You see it all here, you know. The boats of tourists doing the Macarena, trapped in a
timeloop of endless bad taste. The businessmen with their floozies on weekdays and
their wives on the weekends. The faghags hoping no one realises the drop dead guy
they're with wouldn't be caught dead with a woman. The mothers on mother's day, the
fathers on father's day, the old folks trundled out of their old age homes by guilty grown
up children every second Sunday. I don't judge, you know, it's not my place, I just smile
and nod, yes sir, no sir, anything you say sir. Or madam.
We buy our muffins at Pick n Pay. R4,50. We put them on a plate, little glass container
of cheese, one of jam, prepacked pat of pure butter. R18. People pay for ambience,
atmosphere. People pay for the concept, the idea. Service with a smile, we're high
society m'dear. We are not the working classes... we don't even have to wash up
afterwards! See how superior I am. The social class of muffins... you are what you eat.
And things taste better with Coca Cola.
Saturday night and it's all right to party. Anyone who's anyone paints the town red,
tonight of all nights midnight is where the day begins. Misery loves company and birds of
a feather flock together, but two is company and threes a crowd. When you've hit rockbottom you got to smile though your heart is aching, put on your happy face and hit the
town with a painted smile, with killer heels, the life and soul of the party, but it's my party
and I'll cry if I want to. They're all dressed up to the nines and no place to go but up, it's
all downhill from here, the sadder the girl the thicker the make up, see the pretty maids
all a row. Waterproof mascara, smudgeproof, easy application... worth their weight in
gold, always carry a spare. They always hunt in packs, and remember, you can never be
too rich or too thin... what's a girl to do? It takes courage to be yourself in this crazy
mixed up world, and let's be honest, most of the people in here have forgotten who they
were to begin with.
It's a dog eat dog world they say, glass ceilinged affirmative action make or break
nailbiting back breaking keep your eye on the ball nose to the grindstone shoulder to the
wheel prozac nation here today gone tomorrow keep on trucking, firing on all cylinders,
but don't get a bee in your bonnet, you're saddled with working your butt off like a dog,
you're brown-nosing like a blue assed fly, and it's a fine kettle of fish, but keep your eyes
on the prize you weren't born yesterday and every dog has his day, they say, but you
need to swim with the sharks, you can't fly with the eagles by day and hoot with the owls
at night. There are plenty more fish in the sea, they say, but it's survival of the fittest and
you can bet your bottom dollar that money doesn't grow on trees, Rome wasn't built in a
day and there's no such thing as a free lunch, you can't have your cake and eat it but
they're always dangling a carrot to sweeten the pot. I have to get going, because time is
money, but remember, think outside the box, push the envelope, cut the edge - today is
the first day of the rest of your life they say and the sixty four thousand dollar question no lifelines, you can't phone a friend - is: How are you today?
by: Laura M. Williams
MOLLY: [She speaks very bad French with an English accent and English with French
gestures and some sort of affected accent; with enthusiasm.] Oooo! Bon Jour mamsell,
bon jour. Setzen sich. [Shakes hands; starts.] What have I said? Oh, I mean sit down.
That's it, isn't it? Setzen sich. Oh, Lord, I--I beg your pardon. I'm getting my German
mixed with my French. It's awfully hard to keep them separate. [Boastingly.] I speak so
many tongues. Yesterday, I said, "come sta." [Patronizingly.] That's Italian, perhaps you
know--to my French teacher, and "Guten Morgen" to my dancing master, and he's
French! [Laughs.]
You're French, aren't you, Miss Valier? I thought you were. You look French. You're so
thin and you wear such short skirts. It's awfully sweet of you. Oh, oui, oui [shrugs
shoulders Frenchily], I insist it is--to answer my 'phone call this way. I want to ask a
favor. Si si fraulein. [Bends forward eagerly.] You know, I think it would be lovely if you
would talk only French to me and I would speak only French to you. It's the only way to
learn. Of course I know my accent is all right. [Holds nose with fingers and says ong-ong
through nostrils, making peculiar nasal sounds.] See, right through the nostrils. I do that
Now, I'll say something to you and you say something back to me. Let me think--oh, yes.
[Says cautiously.] Comment vous portez vous? [Pauses.] Don't you understand?
[Scowls.] Why, don't you know what I said? [Repeats slowly.] Comment vous portez
vous. [Surprised.] Don't you know that? Dear me. [Sighs.] Well, we'll try something else.
Now--ah--"Parlate Italiano?" [Hastily.] Oh, excuse me, I forgot we weren't speaking
Italian. [Thinks, scowling and muttering to herself; ventures.] J'ai grand faim. [Smiles and
waits for MISS VALIER to answer. Looks blank and murmurs it over with satisfaction.
Shaking head attempts.] J'ai grand faim. [Stares at MISS VALIER.] Don't you get it?
[Slowly.] J'ai-grand-faim. I'm very hungry. [Hastily.] No, not really. That's what I said,
didn't you know? [Suspiciously.] You speak French, don't you? All your life. How nice. I
should think you would understand me better then. Perhaps you haven't talked it for
some time?
[Suddenly.] You know it is pure French I'm speaking. Parisenne. Signor--I mean
Monsieur, of course--"grazia," Madame--Monsieur Chenet comes from there. He is the
most patient man. There are fifty-three in our class, and he is always smiling at us and
some of the girls are so stupid.
[Hopefully.] Well, don't be discouraged, Miss Valier, we'll try again. [Ponders.] Je suis
tres fatigue. [Pauses hopefully; sighs; yawns, closes eyes and attempts by pantomime to
tell what she has said in French.] Dear me, you don't know that? I said I was tired.
[Puzzled.] You must speak a dialect or something. But, my dear--é-é, that's an acute
accent. You see, you speak with your teeth like this, é-é. [Repeats through teeth in a
high voice.] Isn't that right?
Now in German--you don't know German, do you? [Surprised.] Oh, but, my dear, I think
that's so silly. If you are French why take a foolish vow never to speak a thing in German
again. I'm neither French nor German and I've vowed to speak everything. A knowledge
of tongues is really essential nowadays.
I said, "tair im mo broga," that's Gaelic, to our cook and she understood me at once. I
learned it from a former cook. It means, throw me my shoes and [triumphantly] she did!
Idioms of languages are fascinating to me. I can't understand why you look so blank
when I speak to you. In French every syllable is audible, isn't it? [Slowly and jerkily.]
Com ment vous por tez vous. Yes, I'm sure that is right.
It broudens your mind to speak more than one language. I wish you could understand
better. There isn't any trouble with your hearing, is there? You know some people,
possibly most people, have one bad ear. I've noticed it so often when I've been speaking
in some tongue not perfectly familiar to them.
[Startled.] What did you say? [Smiles weakly.] Will you please repeat that? Is it French?
I--I never heard any one speak quite so fast. Of course I've heard they are a--well--a
swift race, but it doesn't seem possible they swallow their nose sounds the way you do.
Monsier Chenet speaks slowly and carefully. Would you mind repeating?
[Repeats slowly.] Merci--that's thank you, of course. De votre. [Surprised.] Isn't that
Spanish? [Bewildered.] Oh, it sounds just like it. Ospeetahle-tay-- [Wondering.] Hospital!
Is any one sick? I'm so sorry. Am I keeping you? [Trying to laugh.] Oh--hospitality--oh,
yes. I thought you said hospital. You speak so indistinctly I didn't catch what you said.
Don't thank me for that. I'm very glad to entertain you. We haven't been able to say
much, have we? If you would allow me to speak German, "Sprechen sie----" [Breaks off
[Hastily.] I won't use it again, though there is nothing in the language to offend. Italian is
so pretty--so melodious. [Half singing.] Si, si, signore. I think that is prettier than oui-oui.
Of course you won't agree with me. It's Yah in German.
No, I don't speak Chinese. It must be awfully interesting. You sing it, don't you? [In singsong voice.] Hi-yi-ti-my-oi-joy-joy ----- [Laughs.] Have you heard this? It's French,
beautiful, you'll enjoy it. [Rises to speak.] I'm learning it to speak at a---- [Breaks off.] Are
you going? Won't you wait to hear it? That's too bad, though I doubt if you could
understand a word of it. You see [smiles patronizingly], you haven't known what I have
already said, have you? And I want you to do me a favor, Miss Valier, for your own good.
You must have been wrongly taught. It doesn't matter where you were born. I want you
to promise me--I ask you because I so love the French, and we must all speak it fluently
and correctly. Promise me, dear Senorita, you will come with me to-morrow to class!
Cell Phones by Xiaoqi Li
You know, everyone nowadays has a cell phone. It's like their lives orbit around
that rectangular piece of steel...and it's not even a sphere!
I can’t disagree
though…I’m one of those people that just can’t part with their phone. Every few
minutes I’ll be checking my phone. (mimes checking phone) Oh look! I
have…zero missed calls, zero new texts, the facebook frontier is quiet…
Then I
remember I’ve had zero incoming calls, zero texts, and I have three friends on
facebook: mom, dad, and grandma. I used to have four but then grandpa died.
Anyways, I’ll still be sitting there, or standing there, no difference, with my
phone, just messing around with it. I have one of those sliding
phones…(towards audience) how many of you guys have those sliding phones?
Well you guys know how addicting it is to just slide the phone back and forth?
*click, clack, click, clack* It’s lots of fun until suddenly, I get a call from my mom
wondering why I called. *hello? Oh hi mom….no I didn’t mean to call you…no I’m
not at a bar right now…yes I know I don’t have a boyfriend…no need to rub it
in…no! do not set me up with someone! Um I really have to go um…make
dinner. Yes, at 2AM! Love you (shake head mouthing not really). Bye!*
Later on, I’m going to bed…getting real sleepy…*ALERT ALERT. ALERT
ALERT* I jumped out of bed, wide awake, grab the gun I always keep by me in
case my feelings get hurt or know. I’m going around corners
like they do in the movies, looking all cool like James Bond in his dino jammies.
I get the the room where I still hear *ALERT ALERT. ALERT ALERT!* going
off…and I realize it was my phone. Nothing like a text alert full volume at 3 in
the morning to get the blood flowing! I checked my phone to find that someone
actually texted me! It was…my mother.
I read her message. It said that grandma
died. My first thought: "Damn! Now I only have two Facebook friends..."
Excerpt from "A Few Good Men".
While being questioned on the stand, Colonel Jessup vents his contempt for the
disrespect he sees toward the Marine Corps.
You can't handle the truth! Son, we live a world that has walls, and those walls have to
be guarded by men with guns, who's gonna do it? You? You Lt. Wienberg? I have a
greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you
curse the Marines. You have that luxury, you have that luxury of not knowing what I
know. That Santiago's tragic death probably saved lives, and my existence, grotesque
and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down
in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that
We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as a backbone of a life
spent defending something, you use them as a punch line. I have neither the time, nor
the inclination to explain myself to a man that rises and sleeps under the blanket of the
very freedom that I provide and then questions the matter in which I provide it. I'd rather
you just said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick up a
weapon and stand a post, either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled
Excerpt from "The Princess Bride"
by William Goldman.
Vizzini tries to decide which glass contains the poison in his battle of wits with Westley.
Guess?....I don't guess. I think. I ponder. I deduce. Then I decide. But I never
guess....It's all so simple....All I have to do is deduce, from what I know of you, the way
your mind works. Are you the kind of man who would put the poison into his own glass,
or into the glass of his enemy?...Now a great fool....would place the wine in his own
goblet, because he would know that only another great fool would reach first for what he
was given. I am clearly not a great fool, so I will clearly not reach for your wine....[But]
you knew I was not a great fool, so you would know that I would never fall for such a
trick. You would count on it. So I will clearly not reach for mine either....We have now
decided that the poisoned cup is most likely in front of you. But the poison is powder
made from iocane and iocane comes only from Australia and Australia, as everyone
knows, is peopled with criminals and criminals are used to having people not trust them,
as I don't trust you, which means I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you....But,
again, you must have suspected I knew the origins of iocane, so you would have known
I knew about the criminals and criminal behavior, and therefore I can clearly not choose
the wine in front of me....You have beaten my Turk, which means you are exceptionally
strong, and exceptionally strong men are convinced that they are too powerful ever to
die, too powerful even for iocane poison, so you could have put it in your cup, trusting on
your strength to save you; thus I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you....But
you also bested my Spaniard, which means you must have studied, because he studied
many years for his excellence, and if you can study, you are clearly more than simply
strong; you are aware of how mortal we all are, and you do not wish to die, so you would
have kept the poison as far from yourself as possible; therefore I can clearly not choose
the wine in front of me....I have already learned everything from you....I know where the
poison is....What in the world can that be?....I could have sworn I saw something, no
matter....Let's drink....[I guessed wrong?] You only think I guessed wrong....I switched
glasses when your back was turned....Fool!....You fell victim to one of the classic
blunders. The most famous is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia,' but only slightly
less well known is this: 'Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.' (As he
laughs, he keels over dead from the poison.)