Tone is defined as the writer’s or speaker’s attitude toward a subject, character, or audience. In “The Strangers That Came To Town” by Ambrose Flack, there are several different tones in place and one definite shift in tone.
At the beginning of the short story, the author, telling the story from the point of view of Andy, writes with a confused and perplexed tone. The Duvitch family has come to town and the boys are excited to spy on them. As referenced later in the story, people in the town often follow the lead of Andy’s family. “Because our home was graced with these symbols, we had always been classified with the town’s great, which gave us such prestige in the neighborhood that people often followed our lead.”
Likely because of the original opinion of Andy’s family, the Duvitches are viewed poorly in the community.
However, there is an incident! When Andy and Tom are forced to repay the damages they cause to Mr. Duvitch and his family by poisoning the fish, the town begins to see the new family in a different light. Indeed, even Andy changes his opinion. The boys deliver the fish to Mr. Duvitch and when asked to shake the boy’s hands, Mr. Duvitch took a moment to respond. Andy thought, “My brother and I did not know where to look and during those moments we suffered more acutely than we had suffered in the clouds of mosquitoes and under the broiling sun. After our neighbor had composed himself, he seized our hands and bowed his head over them. There was something Biblical in the man’s gesture. Anyway, it was my greatest lesson in humility.”
Here, the tone of the story shifts to one of acceptance and awe. At the fish fry, Andy realizes that the family is just as well-off as his own family is and that the Duvitches are not only interesting people, but also funny and engaging. Because of the acceptance of Andy’s family, the Duvitches were welcomed with open arms into the community. The children were played with and given jobs while Mrs. Duvitch became a go-to person when a medical issue arose.
In addition to the theme you stated of “do not judge a book by it’s cover,” I might also include that it sometimes only takes one brave person to stand up for another. When Andy’s father welcomed and accepted the Duvitch family, everyone else fell in line to do so as well. Maybe if we could all extend our hands to someone in need, we could change our world for the better.
I hope that helps you!