The Possibility of Evil by Shirley Jackson

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How would  you describe the story's atmosphere at the beginning? How does this atmosphere help to emphasize the ending?

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kmj23 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At the beginning of this story, Jackson creates a calm, serene, and idyllic atmosphere. The sun is "shining," for example, the air is "fresh," and the buildings in the town appear "washed" and "bright." This serenity is further reinforced by the strong image of Miss Strangeworth's roses, a symbol of her civic pride.

Through the description of this "fragrant, summer day," Jackson creates an almost-idealized world for the reader in which it seems that nothing can disturb the peace and sense of calm which is depicted in the story's exposition.

As a result, Jackson successfully emphasizes the ending of the story because the reader is completely distracted by the sense of peace that she has created. Moreover, through the characterization of Miss Strangeworth in the opening paragraphs, the reader does not supect that such a seemingly-demure and kind old lady would be capable of...

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