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Stephen Crane

Stephen Crane committed suicide at the age of 29.  At the end of his life, he was obsessed with the history of America's creation.  Crane knew he did not understand the reasoning behind war and the development of heroes like the Swede, but he did continually grow in his knowledge.  In later works, he continued with the theme of the undamaged observer who is not able to see things with a true eye.  Crane wrestled with the violence of the time. Post civil war violence seemed a natural phenomenon due to what the soldiers had lived through on the battlefield.  Also, America was still faced with problems of slavery, bigotry and an emotionally divided country.  The industrial climate of the time was that of striking workers and discontent to the point of murderous uprisings.  Crane lived in a violent time and struggled to understand it.

Stephen Crane

In novels such as The Red Badge of Courage and The Open Boat and shorts stories such as A Bride Comes to Yellow Sky and The Blue Hotel, Stephen Crane's stories of lawlessness and amoral society are demonstrated in the choice and descriptions of the characters seemed to have animalistic drives. Crane saw the west developing with an ego that seemed manic. Crane wrestled with the violence of the time. Post civil war violence seemed a natural phenomenon due to what the soldiers had lived through on the battlefield.  Also, America was still faced with problems of slavery, bigotry and an emotionally divided country.  The industrial climate of the time was that of striking workers and discontent to the point of murderous uprisings. Crane yearned for authentic individual experience--physical, emotional, or spiritual.  Crane felt that nature was indifferent to man's fate due to the rise in industrialization.

Altruistic motives seemed hard to discern and Crane was quick to explore one of the great myths that was emerging from the west. Perhaps at the time, young Crane understood this and his portrayal of someone his age, angry and lashing out at all in his path was enough to evoke enough fear in his own mind and soul to create the Swede.  By looking at what Crane did understand and the political and social climate around him, we can see how he came to write his brilliant short stories.

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