How does the atmosphere at the beginning of the story help to emphasize the ending in "The Possibility of Evil" by Shirley Jackson?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of the story, everything is peaceful and the atmosphere is celebratory.  

The story begins by describing a lovely walk on a beautiful day.  Miss Strangeworth is described as stepping “daintily” and taking deep breaths on a “fragrant” summer day.

The sun was shining, the air was fresh and clear after the night’s heavy rain, and everything in Miss Strangeworth’s little town looked washed and bright.

The fragrance from the roses foreshadows what happens to them in the end.  They are a symbol of her importance to the community.  This importance gives her the right, in her mind, to meddle in others’ lives.

At the end of the story, the atmosphere does not really change.  It is still cheery, but Miss Strangeworth is upst.  Miss Strangeworth's insult is the product of her own vengence, but she does not see it that we.  She considers the attack on her roses as evil in the world, and does not see all the things she did as evil.