Compare the description of the Wenders' cottage with the description of the Strorms' living room/kitchen. What contrasting impressions do we get of the two families from the descriptions and David's reactions to the two places?
(Chapter 1 and 2)
The Wender's cottage is much smaller than David's home, but there is a coziness and warmth in it that stands in sharp contrast to David's house. Despite its size, David likes the cottage because it "felt friendly." He notices drawings of horses on the walls, which seem much more pleasing that the plaques that hang from the walls of his home. "The room itself seemed to me the better," David thinks as he recalls how someone is always pointing in warning to one of the maxims on the walls of his home.
In his family's house, the largest and best of the town of Waknuk, built of brick and stone and tile, there is an antiseptic and Puritanical atmosphere as the walls are white-washed, the furniture is "whitely scrubbed" and there are many hanging wooden panels etched with maxims from Repentances; one prominent one faces the door which leads to the yard so that all who enter can read it: "WATCH THOU FOR THE MUTANT!"
From the descriptions of the two homes and from David's reactions, the reader gleans the impression that the Wenders are a close-knit, loving family with genuine emotions who live in a cozy cottage. On the other hand, there is a sterility to the home of the aptly-named Storms's home, and the rooms are so large that it is unlikely that the family has close contact. In addition, there is a fire-and-brimstone atmosphere with all the wooden signs of forbiddance to which David has found himself directed often. He describes them:
Frequent references to these texts had made me familiar with the words long before I was able to read, in fact I am not sure that they did not give me my first reading lessons. I knew them by heart, just as I knew others elsewhere in the house.