The True Protagonist In Stephen Crane's The Blue Hotel

1772 Words8 Pages
In his short story, “The Blue Hotel,” celebrated American novelist, Stephen Crane, delivers an intriguing tale concerning a group of men who take refuge in a Nebraskan hotel during a blizzard in the 1800’s. Whilst at the hotel, one of the men referred to as “The Swede” takes an eccentric turn which leads to a brutal fight between himself and the proprietor's son, stemming from a quarrel over a card game. This confrontation inadvertently leads to the Swedes death in a local saloon. While the plot sounds simple in nature-- reminiscent of a “dime-store novel”-- it is actually quite complex in meaning (Roberts 117). This complexity is derived from the fact that it is difficult to identify a clear protagonist or antagonist in the story. That being…show more content…
Instead of placing all of the blame on the Swede or the other men, the third theory posits that the true antagonist of the story is not an individual as much as it is a branch of the human condition--an outside factor of cause and effect. Mankind is inadvertently born with a free will and with that will comes the ability to make choices. These choices have consequences that interact with and influence the choices of others. Perfectly in sync with his style, Crane delivers the message of his work in a single theme statement presented by the Easterner, “ Every sin is the result of a collaboration” (Roberts 128). Following Newton’s governing law of the universe, every action results in an equal yet opposite reaction. Each character in the story made a choice that affected the other in some way, which culminated in the outcome of the story. The path that lead to the Swede’s death began the moment he set foot in Fort Romper and chose to accompany Mr. Scullie to the hotel. The rest of the story was a series of actions and reactions, inevitably pulling the Swede towards his ultimate fate and the gambler’s arrest. In the words of the Easterner, the “fool of an unfortunate gambler came merely as a culmination, the apex of a human movement”(Roberts
Open Document