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The story “The Bride Comes to the Yellow Sky” by Stephen Crane is an ironic evidence of the unavoidability of the American progress around the end of the 20th century. Set in the Texas’s rugged plains, the story gives an account of the ironic nature of progress. On the one hand, it promises the future success and happiness, but, on the other hand, it pushes away the comfortable standards that sustained the past.
The story “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” is a parable that Crane uses to represent the invasion of the West by the East and the roles changes in a small west town. This is evident right from the first part, where the author describes the movement of the great Pullman with such dignity of motion through the islands of Texas (Perez 5). The train symbolizes the East moving to the West, imposing itself upon the western people. Crane also uses the saloon to symbolize the West since it has all the western elements, including guns, whisky, barflies, and an all-knowing bartender. However, in contrast, the description of Wilson represents an eastern villain, anti – hero who gets drunk and causes havoc in the town.
The main themes in this story are the conflict between the West and the East and passing of an era. While the Yellow Sky is in the West of Texas, is it accessible by the train, which acts as a means of bringing the Eastern civilization to the Western people. In fact, the town civilization comes albeit some people to hold on to the past days like Scratchy Wilson. Unfortunately, people who wish to hold on to their past have already adopted the Eastern lifestyle as evidenced by their dressing (Crane 225). Wilson is wearing a maroon-colored flannel shirt made by some women from the Eastern side. He also has the red-topped boots from the hillsides of New England.
As the story ends, Crane describes Wilson as an easy child of the past plains in the face of the foreign conditions. In such a way, the author shows that Wilson is a man who refuses to let go the childhood memories of the West. The author depicts him not as a mature man, but as a child-man who utterly refuses to grow up. He plays with the town, which the author describes as a toy for him. The last vestiges of the Old West astonish the drummer, who is a foreigner, and does not understand the actions of Wilson. However, the people of Yellow Sky understand and accept him well since they know how hard it is for the past era to face the new civilization.
The intrinsic meaning of the word “progress” concerning the growth and building of a nation relates to the idea of an onward or forward movement, which leads to improvement. Appropriately, the author of the story uses the Pullman as a metaphor for progress in America. Sheriff Jack uses the Pullman to transport the bride across the Texas’s plains as they follow the eastward tide, “sweeping over the horizon”. His bride dazzles by this since it was her first experience with a new couch (Crane 219). For the newlyweds, the affluence of the coach appeared to replicate the glory of their new marriage in San Antonia, which represented a new environment of their new estate. The newlyweds are unlikely candidates to follow whirling onward with so much “dignity of motion”. As the coach feels that this new environment is perfect for the couple, the latter considered the new estate as an uncomfortable alien. Moreover, they regarded it as something that pushes them to the simplicity of their previous lives.
Irony is also illustrated from the feeling of awkwardness between Jack and his new wife. Jackie feels like he has violated the rules of the town. As soon as they arrive, he sneaks her up to his house without anyone seeing her.
Use of Metaphors
With metaphors, Crane describes the discomfort and paradox faced by the two newlyweds when they return to Yellow sky. The narrator illustrates that Yellow town is slow to progress and this is described by the single porter at the train station and the few patrons at bar. The newlyweds start a new life. However, compared to the world they knew in San Antonio, moving forward to the uncertain and ever-changing future (Perez 5). Metaphors alluding to the dying and death are a clear recurring feature in Crane’s work. He illustrates this through images that evoke that the past way of life is swept away by a wave of technological changes. However, in the end, this does not represent a bright and optimistic future, but a dark future with a death knell for the past.