Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
The sky was a dying violet and the houses stood out darkly against it, bulbous liver-colored monstrosities of a uniform ugliness. (5)
Way to start us off, O'Connor. From the start, we feel like something bad is going to happen—if you begin with "liver-colored monstrosities," you know this bus is going nowhere good.
We see it again when Julian and his mom are waiting for the bus, and the "frustration of having to wait on the bus as well as ride on it began to creep up his neck like a hot hand" (37). Julian is like a volcano, just waiting for the right moment to erupt.