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Tone in Parties: A Hymn of Hate

Parker’s speaker engages in a conversational tone as she describes the party, inviting readers in but also subtly persuading them to agree with her thoughts. Parker’s speaker is highly ironic and sarcastic as well, especially with her use of italics to differentiate her inner thoughts, as she mocks the party-goers and their ideas of fun.

Tone Examples in Parties: A Hymn of Hate:

Parties: A Hymn of Hate

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"no one else will think of bringing hard-boiled eggs. ..."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

Notice the sarcasm with which the speaker expresses disgust over the other participant’s lack of imagination. She mocks everyone who “has it all figured out” and suggests that the majority of the people at the party have brought hard-boiled eggs. This kind of sarcastic, mocking tone suggests that the speaker not only considers the party boring, but also views the people at the party as extremely dull and foolish.

"And yet they shoot men like Elwell...."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

After the speaker’s annoyance with the partner who took the game too seriously, the reader might expect her to appreciate the partner who does not take the game seriously and seems to not know what he is doing. However, with this biting comment, the speaker mocks her partner’s attempt to laugh off his poor playing because people get shot over this game. This comment also remarks on the ridiculous nature of this fact: something a man can laugh at led to another man’s death.

"one word frequently leads to another..."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

This line means that the speaker and her partner get into an argument. Notice that the speaker’s tone in this line is dismissive. The adverb “frequently” and the mundane progression of events portrayed in the line suggests that the speaker is just as bored by this fight as she is by the entire card game event.

"And everyone exclaims over how beautiful the lights of the city look—..."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

Parker employs a loose, unmetered free-verse style with a conversational tone. The line lengths are determined by the phrases and sentences, so there is a lot of line variation and no enjambment. Parker uses differences in line length for tonal effect. For example, this line about the “light of the city” is, at 19 syllables, the longest of the poem. The very next line, the 4-syllable “I’ll say they do,” is the shortest. The long, flowing nature of the first line captures the rapture of the other party-goers. The terse “I’ll say they do” conveys the contrasting impatience of the speaker.

"And puts in a good word for the colour of the grass...."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

In this section, the speaker makes fun of the romantic perspective of the other party-goers. The speaker mixes low, colloquial language—“puts in a good word”—with the natural imagery that seems to be enrapturing the others. This technique comes up again in the line “Nature doesn’t go over so big.” Just imagine what a nature-loving Romantic-era poet like Wordsworth would say!

"They bring out the worst in me...."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

The poem begins and ends with the same two lines. All poems belonging to Parker’s “The Hates” utilize the same structure, which serves to clearly delineate the beginning and conclusion of the poem. While this poem is double-voiced, this structure demonstrates that the “true” voice is this one of contempt. In light of this, the reader is encouraged to read the entirety of the poem in a sarcastic, contemptuous tone and to return to this voice at its conclusion.

"mental strain...."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

This line is dripping with satire. The speaker is mocking the party-goers for experiencing “mental strain” from such activities as counting cucumber seeds. Furthermore, the suggestion that a non-alcoholic fruit punch may revive them is meant to inspire deliberate eye-rolling and scorn on the part of the reader. Without explicitly stating her intentions, the poem encourages the reader to share in her mockery and contempt for the partygoers and their activities.

"wild flowers he knows...."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

The speaker lists three examples of party games to demonstrate the sheer boredom and tediousness of such activities. It is unlikely any reader would be thrilled at the prospect of counting seeds in a cucumber, threading a needle, or listing names of flowers. In this way, the speaker further emphasizes the unappealing nature of such parties using a sarcastic, judgmental tone.

"awfully clever..."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

The adjective “clever” used to describe the hostess is undercut by both “awfully” and the following phrase “at that sort of thing.” This line creates a sarcastic tone and suggests that the speaker is belittling both the themed party, and the woman who is capable of hosting such an event.

"Novelty Affair,..."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

A “Novelty Affair” is a themed party, to which guests would often wear fancy dress and partake in themed games. Parker capitalizes the type of party here to demonstrate the official, calculated nature of such a party. Far from being spontaneous, this type of party would require stringent planning by the host. As an integral member of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of early 20th-century Manhattan critics that prided themselves on wordplay and satire, Parker and her peers would have delighted in making fun of clichéd, unoriginal parties such as these.

"They bring out the worst in me. ..."   (Parties: A Hymn of Hate)

During her time as a writer for Vanity Fair magazine, Parker wrote a recurring series of humorous poems entitled “The Hates.” These poems were small pieces of social satire designed to poke fun at various aspects of modern society. As was typical of this series, the poem begins with an italicized phrase wherein Parker declares the subject of her hate. In this poem, Parker condemns four different types of parties, utilizing the italicized form to delineate the poem into clear sections. Beginning the poem in this way introduces a strong, scathing tone from the outset.

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