What is the tone of the story
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Consider the quote,
"They lived in a forlorn-looking house that stood alone and had an air of starvation. A few straggling savin-trees, emblems of sterility, grew near it; no smoke ever curled from its chimney; no traveller stopped at its door."
This quote sets the tone for the rest of the story. This quote not only characterizes the setting around Tom Walker and his wife's house; it also characterizes the tone of the story, Tom Walker and his wife themselves. Adjectives like "forlorn" and "straggling," as well as phrases like "emblems of sterility," paint a picture for readers of the kind of life these two characters are living and the relationship they have with each other. Imagery like this sets the tone of the story and prompts distaste for Tom Walker's character right from the start.