Voices from the Past in Stephen Crane's The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

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Voices from the Past in The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

Once upon a time there was the West, and the West was wild. Trails needed to be blazed, and Indians to be fought. To overcome such hardships and obstacles, men needed to be just as tough, rugged, and untamed as the landscape that they braved. In a time when American people needed heroes, those men who conquered the Western frontier became the objects of admiration and wonder. Furthermore, they set a standard of physical strength and violent self-reliance to be met by anyone who decided to settle in the West for it was a place of toughness, conflict, and courage. In Stephen Crane's "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky," Scratchy Wilson and Jack Potter seem to possess those qualities
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He's about the last one of the old gang that used to hang out along the river here. He's a terror when he's drunk'" (118). The scene in the saloon and the hushed voices of the drummer and the bartender captures the legendary drama of the Old West. And yet the words of the bartender and the mere presence of the drummer also ironically dramatize how civilization that has begun to invade Yellow Sky.

The drummer is an outsider to Yellow Sky, yet he has influence on the town; as a traveling salesman, he is a part of the new business economy that is changing Yellow Sky. The bartender is a businessman, too, a representative of one of the first businesses to take root in the Old West. But newer businesses serviced by the drummer are coming to Yellow Sky and changing it. Perhaps the name that the barkeeper has chosen for his saloon, the Weary Gentleman, is symbolically appropriate, for it suggests that civilization has subdued the west. The gun-slinging men that were once the heroes in tales have become listless because there is nothing left for them to conquer.

Jack Potter appears to be one of those men who have nothing left to conquer. Potter contributes to the western image of Yellow Sky. As the sheriff, it is Potter's "duty" to fight the town troublemaker, Scratchy Wilson, when Scratchy goes into one of his drunken rages. Each time he does so, Potter fits the image of the fearless lawkeeper whose job it is to tend the

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