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The Blue Hotel

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 11 months ago

Stephen Crane

Who was he?

He lost both of his parents by the age 19, and he only lived to be 29, dying from TB, and Maleria in the year 1900 in Germany. He started to write at the age of 8, and by mid-teenage years he wrote for the New York Tribune. He liked to expose social problems by writing about them, and to give the best story he could, he would live where the story was happening, and then write about it. He became friends with H.G. Wells, and other well known writers of the time.

 

    • Most Famous For:

The Red Badge of Courage.

 

    • Other Novels:

Active Service, and Maggie, Girl of the Streets

 

    • Other Writings:

a collection of poems, and some short stories, such as below.

 

 

The Blue Hotel

 

 

A brief summary of the story:

Pat Scully owner of the Blue Hotel goes daily to the train station to garner business for his hotel. On an early winters morning he is able to get 3 men to come to the hotel. A cowboy, an easterner, and a very nervous Swede. Scully's daughters prepare a dinner for the hotel's patrons. During the dinner, the Swede say's with a wink and a smile to Scully, that small western towns were dangerous. Johnny, Scully's son challenges an old farmer to a game of cards called High Five. As they play the Cowboy, and Easterner watch intently, but the Swede stays over by the window ignoring everything going on. With a quarrel, the farmer got up from the game, and left the room. During the silence of the game break-up, the Swede's queer Giggles, arouse the attention of the other guests, wondering what is wrong with him. The Easterner, and Cowboy join Johnny, in a card game, and ask the Swede to join them. He joins in, and then giggles with a shrill, making the others look at him, as if to see what is wrong. During play, he announces I bet there has been many a man killed here. Johnny asks,"What the Hell are you talking about?" Then the Swede with a defiant laugh, says you know what I mean. Johnny pursues this and protests that he didn't know. The Swede winks with a leer, and mocks Johnny's answer. Their chiding each of other continues, to the irritation of the other game players, until the Easterner, says, "(Swede)I don't get you." He then sees that he has alienated everyone at the table, he stands up and yells, "I don't want a fight". He now backs away from the table, and says "I suppose that I will be killed before I can leave this house." Just after Scully comes into the room, and can tell by the look on Swede's face something is wrong. He asks The Swede what is wrong, and he says,"They are going to kill me." Scully asks Johnny, "What is the problem." Johnny implies, you don't need to worry, nothing happened, the Swede is nuts, and thinks he is going to get killed here. Scully is very upset; he wants everyone coming into his establishment to feel secure. He tries to reassure the Swede everything is ok, but the Swede just reiterates he doesn't want to be killed. He then slides by Scully, and goes up the stairway to his room to get his valise, to leave. Scully follows him to his room and asks if he is crazy, and asks if he really believed one of them was going to kill him? He ponders, and then says, yes, he did. Changing the subject, Scully says, man, we are going to have electricity, electric street cars, a new railroad line from Broken Arm, 4 new churches, a new brick school house, and a big factory. The Swede ignores him and asks,"How much do I owe you?", and Scully says,” Nothing". Scully tries to show the Swede, pictures of his other kids, but the Swede was preoccupied, so Scully takes out an old bottle of whisky, and tries to get the Swede to drink. Meanwhile the Easterner, the Cowboy, and Johnny discuss what is wrong with the Swede. The Easterner says it is because of all the ten cent novels the Swede has read on the Wild West. About then Scully, and the Swede come through the door, and are laughing, and drinking. Scully says," Move over and let us into the stove. The Easterner, and Cowboy move, but Johnny just says there is room over there, and the Swede acknowledges, and moves over. Swede begins to talk to Scully, and the others get very quiet, and just listen in amazement over the change in Swede. The Swede goes to get a drink of water, and Scully tells the others that the Swede thought that Scully was trying to poison him, but he is alright now. Johnny thinks he might be ok now, but he doesn't see it. The six o-clock supper comes and Swede dominates the whole event. Scully can see that he has brought out a side in the Swede that no one likes. After Supper, the men move into the other room, and the Swede insists on another game of high five. Mid game the Swede turns on Johnny, and Says," You're cheating". The Easterner, Cowboy, and Scully hold Johnny from jumping the Swede. The table is overturned, and everyone begins yelling. The Swede continues to yell,” He did cheat, I saw him, I saw him". Johnny challenges him to a fight, and the Swede accepts, and says, I'll show you what kind of a man I am." Now the Swede, is afraid that all of the men will jump him, but Scully says that he won't allow that. The Cowboy wanted Johnny to kill him, but the Easterner, didn't like it at all. The fight begun, and shortly you could hear the heavy breathing, of the fighters, until Johnny fell on the ground. Scully asks if he is ok, and can continue, and Johnny admits no, and that he can't continue. The Swede taunts him, with saying,"Johnny is whipped." Scully asks Johnny if he can walk, and Johnny, just wants to know if he hurt the Swede. Johnny cries over loosing. Scully's wife says,"Shame on you Patrick Scully, Your own son too." The Swede gathers his belongings, and wants to pay for his stay, but Scully won't hear of his paying. The Swede taunts Scully,"You don't owe me nothing", and he taunts Cowboy,"Kill him." and he leaves. The Swede goes to the saloon, and asks for whisky from the bar tender. The Bar tender says,"bad night?", and the Swede says, good enough for me. He asks the Bartender to drink with him, and the bartender refuses. The bartender asks how did you hurt your face. The Swede boasts of the fight, and the 4 men in the bar are interested to know who he fought. He told them Johnny Scully. Drink anyone, and they abstained,"no thanks." The group of 4 was made up of 2 business men in town, the district-attorney, and a professional gambler. All 4 upstanding men in the community. The Swede wants any, and all to drink, and celebrate with him over his fight, but no one will join him. He says to the bartender those men over there are going to drink with me, and don't you forget it. He puts his hand on the gamblers shoulder, and asks if they will drink with him, and the gambler just answers over his shoulder, that he doesn't know him, and asks him to take his hand of his shoulder, go away, and mind you're own business. The Swede grabs the gamblers throat, and a scuffle begins. The next thing seen is a long knife in the hands of the gambler being shoved into the Swede. Everyone falls backwards, and The Gambler tells Henry to tell them that he'll be at home waiting for them(the law). Months later Cowboy was cooking pork when the Easterner came in and announced that the person who killed the Swede got 3 years. That the town felt for the Gambler, and that if the bartender had knocked the Swede out with a bottle of whisky, as he should have, this wouldn't have happened. The Easterner mentions if the Swede hadn't said,"Johnny is cheating", he would be alive now. They both felt sorry for the gambler, but the Easterner continues, and says, that he(the gambler) was the innocent person in all of the killing, as everyone at the Blue Hotel was guilty of collaborating in on the killing, but the poor gambler gets the entire sentence, but the Cowboy doesn't believe he did anything.

 

Commentary

The author makes the Swede look extremely paranoid, and so obnoxious, that everyone wants to kill the guy. Our society can never justify without reasonable cause, self defense killing. The author makes the point, that everyone at the Blue Hotel was as guilty of the killing, as the Gambler. He also makes a good point, how people quite often look around, and ask, "did I do something?"(as if to say don't blame me, I had nothing to do with it.) The point is also well made, that it might turned out differently, if The Easterner had spoke up and supported the Swede, when he said,"You cheated", to John, for he had, and the Easterner saw it also. These are all valid points, but one that I think should be made here, is while the Swede was paranoid, he was obnoxious, but he was a person who should never be let to drink liquor, as it really made him a sort of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde.

comments by: Jim Butterfield

 

 

Websites on Stephen Crane: http://www.online-literature.com/crane/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Crane

again, other stories by Stephen Crane: The Red Badge of Courage, Active Service, Maggie, Girl of the Streets**

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