Movies and books, about tales of the Old West, are still popular today. Western fiction is a genre of literature set in the American Old West frontier and typically set from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century. Stephen Crane's "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" depicts the influence of the East on the West. It is interesting to note that the general concept and the dominant theme of the story can be summarized in the very first sentence, which provides the general framework for the whole story. The first sentence of the story "fixes the sensation of a train ride through a kinesthetic detail, and that detail also supplies a theme that the rest of the story will develop"(Bergon 95).Crane writes, “The great Pullman was whirling onward with such dignity of motion that a glance from the window seemed simply to prove that the plains of Texas were pouring eastward.” (467).The opening sentence plays a major role in symbolizing the changes in western civilization as the East flows into the old West. “The Brides Comes to the Yellow Sky” shows that crane chose words ideally suited to the aforementioned changes by symbolizing “Pullman” for quality, “whirling” for speed, and “onward” for direction.
Crane touches on the quality and condition of East’s invasion of West and the subsequent changes by using Pullman.The story was written in 1898 where Pullman was an elegant means of transportation associated with the upper class and intended for the very rich. The “Pullman” denotes luxury, technology and new social order. Jules Zanger writes,“If Cranes Pullman destroys the old natural order of the West, it carries a new order emblemized in the marriage of Jack and his bride.” (161).The story introduces the great Pullman with two main characters onboard; one represents law and order (Jack Potter) and the other represents civilization (bride).Both are travelling westward, which signifies the quality and new condition brought by the East. Crane conveys the message that the days of wagon trains and hostile Indians were over and that is why the two principal characters are introduced riding on the great Pullman (Solomon).
On the other hand, the literal meaning of “Pullman” provides a profound understanding of the influence that the word applies to the whole context.According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the lexical meaning of “Pullman” is “a railway carriage affording special comfort, especially one with sleeping facilities.” While the word’s earliest attestation goes back to 1868,the Pullman was relatively a new word back then, and was used in association with relaxation and friendliness. Crane wanted to make the story more friendly and humorous in contrary to the stereotypical tales about the Wild West written before. Therefore, the story's main purpose is to shine light on the newly founded west after all. This shows that the good quality, friendliness, and modernity are all linked to the development brought by the eastern “Pullman”.