Jack is being debriefed for a new job, a caretaker role at a hotel, something far removed from the teaching and writing roles he has performed in the past. But that is in the past, due firstly to a major drinking problem, and then due to an anger problem. Combine those two together and you would have some serious issues one would have thought. And such is the case. The family unit has seen better times, and has come close on occasions to breaking up because of Jack's issues, and his mistake in taking it out on his infant son.
Wendy is at home, a home she is obviously unhappy with, and a life she has become concerned about. Her husband has had his down times, and though she may not be exactly enamoured with the job he is seeking, she knows it is better than no job at all. But can this all survive in their current state? Doubts remain.
Danny is waiting for his father to return, and we are privy to the fact that he has a surprisingly fertile ability, one that may not be completely developed at his tender age, but one that is there nonetheless. That he can know how others are feeling, especially his parents, and often what they are thinking, makes for interesting times ahead. His 'imaginary' friend Tony has already shown his head, and would appear to have a role to play as the story moves ahead.
This initial stanza does a great job of backgrounding the story and the characters that we will become intimated with. If there is one thing Stephen King can do, it is set up a story with enough information such that we learn a lot without being overly bombarded. The first passages here have given the reader enough to be intrigued as to what is to come, as well as come to their own conclusions as to how these relationships will survive the test of what is to come. Indeed, the final paragraph of this section of the book sums up the atmosphere.
"Everything was all right. Daddy was home. Mommy was loving him. There were no bad things. And not everything Tony showed him always happened.
But fear had settled around his heart, deep and dreadful, around his heart and around that indecipherable word he had seen in his spirit’s mirror."