The Blue Hotel

The Blue Hotel

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The Blue Hotel

 

As a recently published book on the works of Stephen Crane, it is rather disappointing to see some of the key moments left out of Stanley Wertheim's criticism in A Stephen Crane Encyclopedia about the short story "The Blue Hotel." Wertheim leaves out a key point in the characterization of the Swede and the plot of the story. This occurs at the point where Patrick Scully, in the story, persuades the Swede to stay in his hotel despite his fears and inhibitions about the Wild West by getting him to drink and not to worry. This by itself is a climatic event because the Swede believes that he is about to be killed or poisoned as Scully brings out the bottle. Another event comes later as Wertheim simply brushes over the murder of the Swede. Both of these events are based on extreme emotional feelings and actions that cause the reader to question the motive behind the Swede's actions as well as his characterization.

Wertheim does a very good job at bringing out other points in the novel. The setting he states is "bleak prairie town in northern Nebraska" with the fictional appearance of a dangerous western environment. The blizzard that occurs later in the story, Wertheim continues, represents a "hostile manifestation of nature" that ironically does not kill the Swede.

As Wertheim finishes his criticism with the final section of the story, he brings in several arguments about the fault of the Swedes death and the punishment of the gambler. He brings in the argument about the "affirmation of the Howellsian doctrine of complicity" and "the existential necessity for human brotherhood in a viable society.

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" Both of these arguments show that the Swede died of external causes that no man could control other than he because of his internal need for companionship.

In the end, the story leaves in the mind of the reader a question of who is to blame, which is something, Wertheim comments, which will be argued and debated for a long time.

 
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