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Atmosphere Tone of Story: Definition--General Atmospheric Value of Fiction--Tone of Story--Preparation of Reader for Climax--Examples--The Story of Atmosphere--Short Story--Setting--Slight Dramatic Value of Type. Atmosphere--as the term is used by the writer of fiction--is a most indefinite word; it may be well to preface discussion of what it stands for by a definition. And in defining it is often conducive to clearness to state what a thing is not before stating what it is. In the first place, atmosphere is not setting, although the setting of a story may aid in producing its atmosphere. The frozen wastes of a sub-arctic region or the man-made squalor of a slum may operate powerfully to produce on a reader of a story placed therein an impression of desolation or of misery, but that impression will derive from something other than the setting, and will merely be reinforced thereby. If a slum story is essentially cheerful and light-hearted in content, its reader will not be oppressed by the setting, however truthfully touched in, unless the writer deliberately makes his people seem miraculous in point of their capacity to avoid the contagion of their surroundings. The young girl in "The Dawn of a To-Morrow" is an instance of what is meant by the qualification.
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