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The Grey Scene at the Blue Hotel

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Stephen Crane's poem "XXII" from "War is Kind" can be used to describe the theme in " The Blue Hotel" because everything is never exactly how it seems; each character and setting from the story are not black and white but really a rainbow of grey.

When the prophet, a complacent fat man,

Arrived at the mountain-top

He cried: "Woe to my knowledge!

I intended to see good whit lands

And bad black lands

But the scene is grey. (1817)

Blindness follows when we expect to see what we intended to see. The Swede intended to see the wild west, The Cowboy intended to see a good ol' fashion bar fight, Scully intended to see his guests happy, and Johnnie intended to see The Swede's ego diminished. The fact that most of the characters are not even given names already assigns stereotypes to them, The Swede, The Cowboy, The Easterner, what kind of characteristics do these nicknames imply? The dark tone and irony of this story exemplifies the turmoil caused by mindless assumptions and judgments. The Swede's fate has nothing to do with a chain of events but rather is a device when people forget that the world is viewed different through each person's eyes and no one can ever be exactly sure who someone else is.

The Easterner, the most mysterious character of the story, Crane introduces him with the most ambiguity, " one was a little silent man from the East, who didn't look it, and didn't announce it." What does a man from the East look like and how does he carry himself, The Easterner doesn't seem to fit the stereotype of " Eastern people" that the characters in the story have. The Easterner is the only character that looks at the bigger picture even though I don't agree with his viewpoint. He sees how each action is carried out with a reaction and how on that particular evening and that particular chain of events led to the death of an assumed innocent man. The innocence of The Swede is questionable. There is no background information given just his strange behavior from the minute of arrival is all The Easterner has to go on.

From The Swede's perspective he had gotten off the train in the Wild West. He romanticized the situation and assumed he was staying in a dangerous hotel filled with dangerous people. In reality he was being taken in by a kind man named Scully, who wanted nothing more then to make his guest's stay in Nebraska a comfortable one. The Swede in fact is probably the character with the most delusions, which eventually leads to his terrible fate, death, stabbed by a complete stranger.

Johnnie immediately became defensive to the strange Swede's claim that many men had been killed in their card room. Rather than blowing the man off as insane, which he likely was, Johnnie's testosterone took over and he acquired a new worst enemy. His competitive nature and pride probably influenced him to cheat at the "just for fun"



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