Fantastical Mixed With Realistic
The Goose Girl is a fairy-tale-like story, full of talking animals and supernatural happenings. Accordingly, the tone of the story is somewhat fairy-tale-like, or fantastical, as well. This kind of tone involves a lot of hyperbole: exaggerated descriptions of people or things as the biggest, best, or fairest of them all.
For the most part, the narrator seems caught up in all the awe and amazement at this exceptional world and the marvelous events that occur in it. She or he is full of praise for Ani's connection with animals and the different languages (people, animal, nature) people can speak. Check out the way Ani's aunt talks to her:
"Several years ago, I helped a friend with his foaling mare, and the little colt fell into my arms. I heard him, just after he tumbled out, emit a mournful little sound, something like 'Yulee.' His name. Horses are born with their own name on their tongue, you see? I repeated it back to him, and he heard me, and ever since he can hear me and I can hear him. It's a horse's way to give you the key to their speech once and never repeat it." (1.46)
Do you see how the tone is very much like a story? There's an excitement to the pacing, and a commitment to the truth of what happened—though it's unusual in Ani's world—and by taking this tone, we're pulled into some of the wonder of the world Ani lives in. Besides, it wouldn't fit to have a dry, dull tone when talking about things so magical and amazing, now would it? We think not.
When Ani's a goose girl though, the tone of novel becomes straightforward and real, just like her new life. We still get lofty tales of wild horses and wind of course, but more often we get realistic recounting of Ani's experiences and surroundings. Here's an example:
Ani opened the door to the smell of warm food mixed with the odor of cowsheds, breakfast bread, and bodies that spent too much time with animals and too little time in a bath. Ani wondered if she could eat through that smell, though the nearly three dozen workers at the table benches were eating as though half starving. (8.2)
Gone is awe over horses speaking, and instead we're presented with body odor and hungry laborers. The pacing is as steady as the workers in their days, and the language is straightforward and plain too. There's nothing whimsical or fantastical about this scene, and the tone follows suit.