Humans are creatures of habit. In his work "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky," Stephen Crane considers this apparent truism as well as its sometimes unfortunate consequences. In the story, Scratchy Wilson and Jack Potter face a dramatically changing society. Although their actions and emotions concerning the changes in their town differ, Scratchy and Potter are both very fearful of the inescapable easternizing influences. Through Scratchy and Potter's embracing of the Old West, their responses to the East, and their optimism, Stephen Crane illustrates that whether attachment or resistance exists, change is inevitable.
To emphasize the difficulty and inevitability of change, Crane displays the characters' attachments to the Old West. Scratchy, the sole survivor of an old gang, plays out his beloved past by rampaging Yellow Sky with his long revolvers and drunken curses. His "creeping movement of [a] midnight cat," chants of "Apache scalp-music," and "terrible invitations" all portray Scratchy's devotion to the Old West. Scratchy's loyalty to his past clearly emphasizes his resistance to change and foreshadows that change will defeat him no matter how long or how hard he plays the game. Potter also plays along by acting as the town marshal who must save Yellow Sky and heroically put an end to the town "terror." Nevertheless, though Potter is attached to the Old West, he embraces the new West with his marriage. Unlike Scratchy, Potter accepts that Yellow Sky is changing and decides to change with it. Crane uses this acceptance to show that change is sometimes easier for some than for others. Potter continues to struggle and worries what his hometown will d...
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... forever. The future is now unreachable for him. On the other hand, Potter, though apprehensive like Scratchy, slowly opens his heart to the changing world. Through Scratchy and Potter, Crane establishes two choices: one can either resist change as Scratchy does and remain unhappy until the end, or one can accept change as Potter eventually does and further his future and happiness. Humans are creatures of habit where stability and comfort come first. Ironically, though fully aware of it, humans are always surprised at and afraid of change and how to handle it. Through his work, Stephen Crane brilliantly sets forth that one has no control over what is to come but only how he or she chooses to face it.
Crane, Stephen. “Bride Comes to Yellow Sky.” Literature: The Human Experience. 8th ed. Ed. Richard Abcarian and Marvin Klotz. Boston: Bedford, 2002.
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