Study Guide

Where Things Come Back Tone

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Cynically Yours

Because much of the story is told from Cullen Witter's perspective, everything is rather bleak. Cullen tells the story like it is through his eyes… but his eyes are a little bit tainted by pessimism. For example, when Cullen talks about their oh-so-bright future as adults, he has this to say:

People dreamed. People left. And they all came back. It was like Arkansas's version of a black hole; nothing could escape it. I lay there silent beside my brother, my best friend and his girlfriend wading in the water before me, and I knew we were all just in the prelude to disappointment after disappointment. (3.126)

Not the most cheerful of statements, huh? Through Cullen's eyes, the story takes on the dull, cloudy feeling of someone who is slowly watching hope seep away. He desperately wants to find his brother, but he can't help but get bogged down by all the bad things that are happening in his life.

Even when Cullen isn't narrating, though, the tone stays pretty bleak. It's not necessarily as cynical, but the darkness remains. The book centers around tragedy, though, so this is pitch perfect tonally speaking.

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