Tone Techniques: Dances with Wolves

In his novel, ”Dances With Wolves”,   Michael Blake uses several techniques throughout the story to enhance the tone displayed to the reader.

            Blake uses tones that vary from sad, (war times) to happy (victorious.)

Tone can be defined as the emotion or feeling set upon a reader during a novel/short story. Most times, the tone will change. It can change from sad to dramatic, happy to angry, angry to calm, or basically anything else. Tone is important because it sets the theme, or main feeling for the story.

In “Dances With Wolves”, the tone changes dramatically as the story progresses. In the beginning, Blake gives us a hostile environment. The setting is that Dunbar, a drunk army officer, is assigned to a remote trading post near a tribe of Sioux Indians, his sworn enemies. Communications between them are limited, and the Indian tribe describes white men as “dumb and useless.”   The feeling is mutual, too. White men then considered Indians as barbaric, uncivilized, and also useless. These two groups of people acted extremely hostile towards each other.

But that is sure to change. Dunbar only goes out because he wants to see the frontier, or land that hasn’t been settled. This just so happens to be Indian land. As the story progresses,   Dunbar befriends the tribe, turns against his Northern army, and goes to live with the Sioux. The tone here is a more warm and friendly environment, because Dunbar realizes that his new friends are more civil than men of his own kind.

            Things really start to turn around when Dunbar’s troops find out that he has joined the Sioux. They trap him and beat him, then make him serve as a slave. Dunbar never ends up going back to the white men’s army.

            The way that Blake presents the overall use of tone in this story only makes it more intriguing and exciting. I think the mood that is most prevalent in this novel is a mood of courage, shown mostly by the Indians, but mainly through John...