Importance Of Setting In The Blue Hotel

1514 words - 6 pages

Importance of Setting in Stephen Crane's The Blue Hotel   

In  'The Blue Hotel,' Stephen Crane uses various provocative techniques to ensure that the setting adds to the richness of the story. 'The Blue Hotel' is set in a cold Nebraska town at the Palace Hotel in the late 1800's, but there is more to setting than just when and where a story takes place.  In a written work, it is the author's job to vividly depict events in order to keep the reader?s attention and to create colorful mental images of places, objects, or situations. The story is superbly enhanced through Crane?s use of setting to develop mood, to create irony, and to make nature foreshadow or imitate human actions.

From the beginning, Crane creates an atmosphere of violence, eeriness, and uneasiness.  He writes, ?The Palace Hotel, then, was always screaming and howling in a way that made the dazzling winter landscape of Nebraska seem only a grey swampish hush.?  When Scully, the proprietor of the hotel, greets the Cowboy, the Easterner, and the Swede, the latter is seen as ?shaky and quick-eyed.?  He is a suspicious character that acts quite out of place.  The first people that the entourage encounters are playing cards.  It is Johnnie, who is the son of Scully, and an old farmer with grey and sandy whiskers.  The farmer spits tobacco juice into a sawdust box to show his contempt and anger towards Johnnie.  Johnnie agitates the farmer to such an extent that the farmer leaves the hotel silently explosive.  At this point, a new game of High Five begins.  The Cowboy immediately bothers the others with his incessant banging of the cards.  The Swede is silent until the game absorbs the other players.  He breaks this concentration when he says, ?I suppose there have been a good many men killed in this room.?  He then says, ?I suppose I am going to be killed before I leave this house!?  These odd comments append to the already uncomfortable air that surrounds the Swede.  The Swede successfully isolates himself from the group by appearing crazy to the others.  The statement mortifies the other men since they have no desire to harm him.  In the midst of this turmoil, the author stops the dialogue to add to the eerie and unpleasant situation that the Swede creates when he writes, ?The wind tore at the house, and some loose thing beat regularly against the clapboards like a spirit tapping.?  Scully enters and tries to control the situation.  The Swede leaves the room and goes upstairs.   Scully follows with hopes of consoling the Swede but instead scares the wits out of him: ?Scully?s wrinkled visage showed grimly in the light of the small lamp he carried.  This yellow effulgence, streaming upward, coloured only by his prominent features, and left his eyes, for instance, in mysterious shadow.  He resembled a murderer.?  This description of him perpetuates the eerie feeling of the story.  Upstairs, they indulge themselves in alcohol and return to the rest of the men.  A new card game...

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