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Summary of Crane's The Blue Hotel

American author Stephen Crane (1871-1900), who wrote The Red Badge of Courage, wrote the short story “The Blue Hotel,” in 1898. It was originally published in two installments in Collier’s Weekly, and was reprinted in Crane’s collection The Monster and Other Stories. The complexity of the narrative of a young man, who gets in trouble during a stay at the Palace Hotel, was experimental and complex for its time.

The Blue Hotel Summary

In Fort Romper, Nebraska, the pale blue-painted Palace Hotel is the "Blue Hotel".

  1. The color of the building resembles the blue of a heron,
  2. The way the hotel sits alone in the prairie is reminiscent of a solitary bird.

One winter morning, the owner, Pat Scully, greets the morning training, persuading three men into joining a card game of high five. The three men include Mr. Blanc, a quiet easterner, Bill, a cowboy from the Dakotas, and the Swede, from New York City. The three men join an old farmer and Scully’s son in the card game, while the owner sees to their luggage and lunch.

Almost immediately, the Swede begins to act strange, as if he is worried about being in a stereotypical western shoot-out. As the three men play cards, the Swede begins to take exception to the way that the cowboy slams his cards down on the table, pleading with the man not to kill him. Scully, the owner, believes the Swede has lost his mind, as the booming town is about to install an electric streetcar, and that the Swede has read too many too many dime novels.

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