Stephen Crane's Short Story „The Blue Hotel“ as a Text of the Realistic Period

Between Regionalism and Natioanlism

Term Paper, 2012

8 Pages, Grade: 2,3


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The central realistic elements
2.1. Regionalism
2.2. Naturalism

3. The central realistic elements in “The Blue Hotel”
3.1. Concerning the elements of Regionalism
3.2. Concerning the elements of Naturalism

4. Conclusion

5. Works cited

1. Introduction

This term paper is concerned with two branches of realism reflected in Stephen Crane’s short story “The Blue Hotel”, published in 1899. This short story deals with a short stay of three men at Scully’s Palace Hotel in Nebraska. One of them, called “the Swede” behaves strangely by being convinced that everyone is trying to kill him.

Throughout the story, Crane employs several elements of Realism, more precisely Regionalism and Naturalism. These two aspects of Realism are characterised by the features and the behaviour of the characters.

The aim of this term paper is to give an explanation of the major realistic elements in “The Blue Hotel” and to analyze in how far Crane manages to make use of them.

The first part of this term paper will deal with a general overview of Regionalism and Naturalism. Regionalism developed from more than one reason and I will mention the most important ones in relation to our short story. In this content, it is also important to distinguish between local color Writing and regional writing. After doing so, I will explain the origins and meaning of Naturalism. Thereby, I will also refer to the connection between Regionalism and Naturalism.

The second part will deal with these realistic features with reference to “The Blue Hotel”. Therefore I am going to underline in how far the short story contains elements of Naturalism and Regionalism.

At the end of the term paper, a conclusion will be drawn in which one can see how Crane uses realistic elements in his short story and what he wants to achieve by using them.

2. The central realistic elements

2.1. Regionalism

On the one hand, Regionalism is closed related to the historical events that happened in America between the Civil War and the end of the nineteenth century. One consequence of the Civil War was the awareness of America’s division in different regions. The vision of America as one unity became dated. “A favourite critical generalization about this aspect of American culture and literature is that all realism is ‘regional’” (Thompson 301). Regionalists’ writing often deals with romance, fantasy, superstition and the supernatural.

Furthermore, the invention of the transcontinental railroad can be seen as one reason for the beginning of Regionalism. The first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869 and made it possible for people to cross the country in just a few days. People could reach every part and came from East to West. In 1885, four transcontinental railroad lies had been completed which led to mass immigration (cf. Norton Anthology). As a consequence, different types of people, society and language collided. This encounter entailed a widespread curiosity about other places and other peoples that also led to the development of different stereotypes (cf. Nagel). In this content, it should be mentioned that the clash between people from East and people from West was especially remarkable.

On the other hand, another definition of Regionalism concentrates more on the relation to local color writing, because Regionalism is often referred to local color writing. Whereas local color writing typically has a narrator who has a superior and distanced relation to the region of the fiction, the narrator of the regional writing is located more inside the region. In this case, the narrator describes the life and the people he himself belongs to. Beyond that, the term Regionalism is used in a more generalized meaning so that local color writing can function as a subcategory of Regionalism (cf. Thompson).

2.2. Naturalism

The portable American Realism reader gives a good explanation which summarizes the main idea of this theory: “Life is a struggle for survival in which not the fittest but the most ruthless prevail” (28).

Naturalism is a more radical movement that evolved from science because it is based on the evolutionary theory survival of the fittest of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer (cf. Norton Anthology). Darwin’s theory also led to a new interest in racial identity (cf. Lehan). In the content of race we can find a close link to regionalism. In naturalism, the issue of race especially refers to the differences in cultural societies. This aspect can be taken up by opposing “the literary East and the roughneck West” (Campbell. 6).

The so-called Darwinism is used to explain the behaviour of characters of literary works. According to Darwin and Spencer, modern behaviour can be the product of biologically determined forces.

The characters tend to be uneducated, representative, lower-class ‘types’ of some oppressed group, most often uncomprehending of the forces that impel them toward tragedy, unable to grasp the situation or articulate a protest (Nagel. 28).

3. The central realistic elements in “The Blue Hotel”

3.1. Concerning the elements of Regionalism

The short story “The Blue Hotel” deals with five main characters. Throughout the story, three of them are called “the Swede”, “the cowboy” and “the Easterner”. These men are the guests in the Palace Hotel. In contrast to the hotel owner Scully and his son Johnnie whose first name the reader gets to know, these men are referred to as stereotypes.

Regarding the historical background, it is a typical feature of regionalism that an easterner and a cowboy stand in contrast to each other. The cowboy in this content stands for a man coming from the West. In the introduction the cowboy is described as “tall bronzed [...] on his way to a ranch” and the Easterner as “a little silent man” (Norton Anthology. 1796). This description fits into the general characterization of an easterner and a westerner at that time.


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Stephen Crane's Short Story „The Blue Hotel“ as a Text of the Realistic Period
Between Regionalism and Natioanlism
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stephen, crane, short, story, blue, hotel, text, realistic, period, between, regionalism, natioanlism
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Nathalie Fiore (Author), 2012, Stephen Crane's Short Story „The Blue Hotel“ as a Text of the Realistic Period, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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