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Poker Flat And The Blue Hotel

1126 words - 5 pages

Two Authors' Interpretations of Western Expansion During the mid-1800's, America's Western frontier was booming and drawing prospectors and adventurers from all parts of the world. Due to the West's rapid expansion, much of the truth was unclear to various parts of the world, thus causing the West to e a great mystery. Early stories depict different interpretations of the West. Two Western short stories, Stephen Crane's "The Blue Hotel," and Bret Harte's "The Outcasts of Poker Flat," portray the West in a convincing manner. Since both Crane and H te have similar views concerning Western expansion, their stories contain very similar elements such as; their descriptions of fate, natural obstacles, and death.In both stories, fate is a key element with which the main characters struggle. John Oakhurst, a professional gambler in "The Outcasts of Poker Flat," has a strong belief in fate as though it were a religion. John Oakhurst gives a compelling descript n of his interpretation of destiny: Luck, is a mighty queer thing. All you know about it for certain is that it's bound to change. And it's finding out when it's going to change that makes you. We've had a streak of bad luck since we left Poker Flat- you come along, and slap, you get into it, too. If you can hold your cards right along you're all right. (306) Similarly, in Stephen Crane's "The Blue Hotel," the character called the Swede, is an uptight tailor from New York. The Swede is a guest lodging at the Palace Hotel in Romper which is owned by Patrick Scully. The Swede is obsessed with the assumption at his fate has already been sealed and his death, guaranteed. The Swede fears the West and is under the assumption that all stereotypes concerning Western dangers are accurate. The Swede's impression of the other hotel occupants is that they are all ying to kill him. The Swede convey's his false assumption by claiming, "I suppose there have been a good many men killed in this room....Gentlemen, I suppose I am going to be killed before I can leave this house! I suppose I am going to be killed befor I can leave this house!" (416, 417). Although the main characters believe that fate holds different outcomes for them, their belief in fate alone, binds the two.A natural obstacle which appears in both stories is the weather. The snow in "The Outcasts of Poker Flat," traps the main characters and confines them to an old clap-board cabin. The snow results in the demise of the main characters, and instills fea among them. John Oakhurst is the first to see the snow and predict the catastrophic future of the group. Harte uses imagery to help one visualize the emotions felt by Oakhurst by writing, "The wind, which was now blowing strongly, brought to his cheek hat which caused the blood to leave it--snow!....He looked over the valley and summed up the present and future in two words -- "˜snowed in!'" (305). In Crane's story, he illustrates the weather similarly to the manner in which Harte does in his....

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