How would you describe the story's atmosphere at the beginning in light of the story's ending?

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I believe that the story's exposition helps to establish the ending of the story.  Consider the Miss Strangeworth loves the town in which she lives.  She admires nearly every element about it.  She is able to feel a certain amount of pride in the town, a town that she has helped to create.  This helps to underscore the power of the story's ending.  At the end of the story, Miss Strangeworth is able to experience the same level of feeling and emotion about the town.  The ending of the story features Miss Strangeworth experiencing a sense of shock and sadness about the reality in which her roses have been destroyed.  In contrast to the start of the story, where she felt pride at what she created, there is a sense of sadness that has fallen upon her.  The interesting element is that she has helped to create this condition, as well.  Through the writing of her letters, thinking that she has been able to "help" people in the town, Miss Strangeworth has been able to become emotionally impacted by what she has done and what she has created.  The ending of the story is connected to the beginning through what Miss Strangeworth experiences in both.

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