The Many Meanings of Stephen Crane's The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

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The Many Meanings of The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

Stephen Crane's "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" is a tale about a town sheriff, Jack Potter, who is returning home from a trip where he has married. Jack returns shamefully with his new wife of little worldly experience. The town of Yellow Sky knows Jack as the fearless Marshal who is never afraid to stare down the barrel of a gun. Jack's return to Yellow Sky happens to be at a time when the town drunk, Scratchy Wilson, is looking for a gunfight. However, the townspeople and Scratchy are disappointed to find him married, unarmed, and unwilling to fight. Before Jack arrived the townspeople were hoping for his arrival to cool off the situation. As one bartender said, "'I wish
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Crane tells of how the wife "was not pretty, nor was she very young." She is also unfamiliar, as a cook, of the train they ride together to Yellow Sky. Crane sets this scene to show how Jack's new wife is far from spectacular, and not a person that the people of Yellow Sky will have much respect for. However, after explaining the relationship of the newly weds, Crane reveals the admiration of Jack Potter in Yellow Sky. The reverence of the bartender towards Jack Potter is apparent as he explains the town situation to a visitor. However, once Jack Potter arrives and runs into Scratchy Wilson, the story unfolds. Thomas Beer, author of a Stephen Crane biography is astonished by the way Crane ends the story: " Crane is done with the business. All the ordinary values of his situation have bee thrown away; the marshal and the woman merely plain people" (248).

Crane allows the reader to first see into the mind of Jack Potter, then into the mind of the townspeople. Significantly, Crane begins the story with Jack and his wife preparing to and traveling to Yellow Sky. So, when the reader sees the admiration of the townspeople, it can be taken as comedic. Jack Potter has already been shown as someone far from heroic and intrepid. Eric Solomon sees humor in this section: " Much of the humor derives from the behavior of Potter and his bride, who are awkward and embarrassed in the great Pullman car" (136). A person who is embarrassed around his own wife
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