Settings, Characters, and Ideas in The Blue Hotel
The Story "The Blue Hotel" by Stephen Crane was one that inspires a lot of thought. This thought is about settings, characters, and ideas. The characters he creates are very different from each other, as shown in comparisons to each other. The use of symbolism in the story lets us imagine why the hotel is painted blue and we can wonder about the character of the Swede for long periods of time. These elements combined have made this story very good. The settings in the story are a very big focal point of Stephen Crane. He develops them very well and makes them actually serve a purpose in the story. The color blue painted on the outside of the hotel could symbolize its old age and the dark and dreary atmosphere surrounding it. The hotel seems to be a microcosm because it is the central point for all of the story's characters. The only place that they interact with each other is inside of the hotel and the main points of the story happen there. All of the violent confrontations happen in the hotel or around its grounds. The main fight between the Swede and Johnny is outside in the bitter cold in the street. The hotel could possibly change the characters thinking and cause them to be really weird. This is shown when Scully shows the Swede pictures of his dead family (269). What person in their "right" mind would show someone who thinks they are going to be killed a picture of someone who was killed? These examples show how the settings are more important then the characters themselves. The characters are very odd in this story. It's very hard to think of how such a group could have been formed. The differences among the men are large. The cowboy is the rugged and sinister type, while the easterner is very open and joyful. Johnnie is not like his dad, Scully. They seem to be foils of each other. The Swede is just very unique and in a class by himself. He is a classic case of a paranoid schizophrenic. Don't believe me? How about when he says, "I'm crazy-yes, but I know one thing" (267). That one thing is he knows is that he will be killed soon, very soon. The problem and/or question of whether or not the Swede would have been killed whether Johnnie had participated in that fight by his cheating or not, is easy to answer. The Swede had a death wish and wanted to die. Some examples of this are when he takes a drink of the alcohol offered to him by Scully (269). If you thought you were in danger, would you drink anything specially offered to just you? But the Swede just laughed it off and gulped the drink right down. They did not all collaborate in the murder of the Swede. I saw no evidence of this except that they didn't help him at all. They caused no harm to him in any way except for the "card-fight" which was a customary thing to have after being accused of cheating. But that brings about an interesting point within itself. Did the Swede know that he would get into a fight after doing such and possibly be killed? As the Cowboy said, "Kill him, Johnnie! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!" (275). The gambler at the end who actually kills the Swede is provoked enough to commit the terrible act. The Swede was not just randomly attacked by a knife wielding psycho. In conclusion, I would assume that the Swede would have died no matter what the other folks did to him in the story. He was a whack job with a death wish and was very foolhardy if he wasn't. I can say for sure that I would not like to visit the Blue Hotel and meet some of the strange customers that arrive there daily.
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