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 ...
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...y stab by the gambler.
Setting is one of the most important facets of a story. It encompasses more than what simply meets the eye. An elementary look into the setting of ?The Blue Hotel? reveals a place and possibly a time for a story to take place. However, a deeper, more critical look exhibits how Crane uses a highly descriptive setting to explain the story rather than relying on character?s thoughts and dialogue. Crane?s profound use of setting enables the reader to easily follow the storyline and, therefore, maximizes the experience of reading his short story. It is little bits and pieces of detail that the reader gradually becomes aware of that make ?The Blue Hotel? a grand work of literature.
Crane, Stephen. "The Blue Hotel." Norton Anthology of American Literature. Shorter Fourth Edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995. 1626-1645.
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