Dickens manages to create atmosphere in the beginning of "The Signalman" by portraying the signalman as a withdrawn and deliberate man. The way that the signalman looks down the tracks rather than upwards after being greeted by 'halloa! Below there'. A greeting which there could have been no confusion as to where it came from. This reveals to us that the signalman is a strange character with a somewhat indescribable manner of doing things.
After the signal man turns to the narrator and is asked the question about whether there is a way down he doesn't reply, but just stands there watching the narrator, and it is only on being asked the question again that he replies. Then, he does not shout back but merely points with his flag and remains silent as if he is trying to avoid contact.
When the narrator has descended into the cutting the signalman is still motionless and silent, creating an air of tension as if he doesn't want the narrator there, but would rather be left alone in his state of withdrawn watchfulness.
When he does speak after a period of gestures and silence, Dickens makes him think about his words carefully. This gives them a well-chosen exact feel and at the same time vague and mysterious as if the signalman is remaining vigilant and unmindful at the same time. His 'peculiar low voice' echoing around and casting eerie reflections
The signalman's appearance really helps to create a mysterious atmosphere because Dickens has made him into a foreboding figure with heavy eyebrows, sunken eyes and dark beard, with a sallow complexion, which mirrors the dark surroundings. Dickens has created an atmosphere so peculiar that we ask ourselves is the signalman real or some force from another world, as does the narrator.