Why did the author most likely use the phrase "the thermometer stood at sixty" in the first paragraph of the text?

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This short story is about a man, Mr. Nilson, who lives in a very upmarket part of London (Campden Hill) and who seems to live a very comfortable, pleasant life. There is also, however, something not quite right: "a peculiar . . . sensation in the back of his throat."...

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This short story is about a man, Mr. Nilson, who lives in a very upmarket part of London (Campden Hill) and who seems to live a very comfortable, pleasant life. There is also, however, something not quite right: "a peculiar . . . sensation in the back of his throat." One interpretation of the story is that this peculiar sensation (which also manifests elsewhere in the story as a "queer feeling" and a "faint aching just above his heart") is his subconscious awareness that his life has become too comfortable, too uneventful, and too humdrum.

The phrase "the thermometer stood at sixty" indicates a pleasant, warm morning temperature. The writer alludes to the temperature to provide a fuller impression of just how pleasant the morning is, thus creating a sharper juxtaposition between the pleasant surroundings and the peculiar sensation. Sixty degrees fahrenheit is also quite warm for this time of the morning (it is just before eight), especially for London, and it perhaps furthers the impression that Mr. Nilson's life—like a warm bath that one has been in for a bit too long, so that the fingers are wrinkled and the mind a little drowsy—has become just a little bit too comfortable.

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This phrase is most likely used to help establish the setting of the scene. The author is indicating that the weather is pleasant—it is holding steady at sixty degrees (Fahrenheit, of course), which is a very comfortable temperature, especially early in the day. This is substantiated by Mr. Nilson’s own thoughts when he sees the Japanese Quince in blossom in the Square Gardens: “’Perfect morning…spring at last!’” These sorts of platitudinous issuances about the weather pepper the story throughout, and serve as a cover in conversation, sharply contrasting with the true discomfort felt by the two characters upon meeting each other in the Gardens. Both had been under the impression that he was the only man out on such a beautiful, unseasonably warm morning, and the shattering of that impression left each of them feeling as if he had been intruded upon. So, while the weather is exceptionally nice outside, within both of the men is an uneasy feeling, as though each has had his sense of individuality stripped away.

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