Stephen Crane composed a disturbing, yet very true to human nature, story when he wrote, "The Blue Hotel." Crane's use of fear and the visceral sensations that are evoked when confronted with a madman on the path of destruction make "The Blue Hotel" a short, exciting read. However, Crane, as he does in other stories such as "A Bride comes to Yellow Sky" and his famous "Red Badge of Courage", falls short on the accuracy of character portrayal. Just as Crane never fought in a war but wrote one of the most vivid and poignant novels of the civil war era, Crane has deep biased in writing about the American West and the individuals there, as a provincially minded easterner.
The Blue Hotel and Ego
Crane saw the west developing with an ego that seemed manic. The Swede was this ego accentuated. From the moment he arrived at the Palace Hotel, he was certain the proprietor, Pat Scully, his son, Johnnie, or one of the cowboy transients would murder him. The Swede seems on a suicide mission as each of the characters in the hotel seem to twist the knife of his suspicions ever deeper. The Blue Hotel is not a story of triumph over fear, but of fear consuming and creating the demise.
The Myth and The Blue Hotel
The myth of the west that the Swede believed in derived not from his own overactive imagination, but rather from reading too many dime novels about the West. These exaggerated dime novel stories are the very stories that Crane parodies in "The Blue Hotel." Although the world of the saloon at the end of the story more accurately depicts the Western world in the Swede's mind, the blue hotel lies in stark contrast to the Western reality. When the Swede says "'I suppose there have been a good many men killed in this room'", "'I don't want to fight'", and "'These men are going to kill me'", Swede shows his true ignorance of the generally passive people of the early west.
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