Stephen Crane's The Monster as the Most Important work of short fiction written before 1900

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“At once a children’s tale, a grim social satire, an ambitious study of ethical responsibility, a painful examination of race in America, a devastating account of the village virus…”

“The Monster” by Stephen Crane, has been interpreted as the most significant work of short fiction written before 1900. It is a compilation of different issues used to highlight the racist attitudes and xenophobia evident in the USA after slavery was abolished in 1863. Despite the fictional plot, the views of the white population of Whilomville are based on fact, as the racist feelings were still palpable evinced by derogatory terms such as “Negro”. Along with the race struggle, social satire is apparent, as evidently the story is classified as
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However, when Henry visits the Farragut’s to ask Bella to the dance, she “grovelled in the corner of the room”, as his deformity is repulsive. This illustrates that people believe that the exterior is more important than personality. This is further evident through Jimmie and Henry’s relationship. Prior to the accident, “these two were pals”, but following the fire, “little Jimmie was at first much afraid of the monster”. The use of the definite article isolates “Hennery” as it defines the noun. Due to Henry’s appearance, Jimmie and his friends play a game of “touch the monster”, which horrifies Doctor Trescott, as it is tormenting and ridiculing Henry.

As the story is entitled “The Monster”, it implies that Henry himself is the ostensible monster. However Crane portrays that the community themselves become the monsters, as they have rejected Trescott and Henry. This is evident in the conclusive chapter, as “there were fifteen” cups. Mrs Trescott received guests on Wednesdays, and due to the family’s decision to allow Henry to stay with them, the district has ostracised the Trescotts. Thus, in the room where Mrs Trescott is sobbing, the table was “burdened with many small cups and plates of uncut tea-cake.” This conveys that the village is displeased with their decision, and therefore have refused to attend, consequently rejecting them. Crane insinuates that the community’s opinions of Henry

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