The Blue Hotel

The Easterner (Mr. Blanc) Character Analysis

The Easterner, referred to by Scully as Mr. Blanc, is a small, unassuming man. He arrives by train with the other hotel guests and is quiet and agreeable for the majority of the story. The Easterner is the one who suggests that the Swede’s strange behavior might simply be due to fear, and seems to be a voice of reason throughout the story. During the brawl over the card table, for example, he asks quietly whether such violence is necessary over a game of cards. At the end of the story, the Easterner admits that his own fear stopped him from ending the conflict before the Swede's death–he knew that Johnnie had, in fact, cheated at cards yet said nothing to interfere with the fight that followed. He makes it clear that he believes that all the men are equally responsible for the death of the Swede, and that the Swede did not necessarily bring his death upon himself. The only character that shows marked growth over the course of the story, the Easterner seems to acknowledge his role as a bystander and admit his own guilt. Because he was arguably the least guilty of all the men, this admittance implicates the cowboy, Scully, and Johnnie as well.

The Easterner (Mr. Blanc) Quotes in The Blue Hotel

The The Blue Hotel quotes below are all either spoken by The Easterner (Mr. Blanc) or refer to The Easterner (Mr. Blanc). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Thrift Editions edition of The Blue Hotel published in 1993.
Section 1 Quotes

Scully practically made them prisoners. He was so nimble and merry and kindly that each probably felt it would be the height of brutality to try to escape.

Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
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Finally, with a laugh and a wink, he said that some of these Western communities were very dangerous; and after his statement he straightened his legs under the table, tilted his head, and laughed again, loudly. It was plain that the demonstration had no meaning to the others. They looked at him wondering and in silence.

Page Number: 90-91
Explanation and Analysis:
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Section 2 Quotes

As the men trooped heavily back into the front room, the two little windows presented views of a turmoiling sea of snow. The huge arms of the wind were making attempts—mighty, circular, futile—to embrace the flakes as they sped. A gatepost like a still man with a blanched face stood aghast amid this profligate fury. In a hearty voice Scully announced the presence of a blizzard.

Related Symbols: The Blizzard
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Swede backed rapidly toward a corner of the room. His hands

were out protectingly in front of his chest, but he was making an obvious struggle to control his fright. “Gentlemen,” he quavered, “I suppose I am going to be killed before I can leave this house. I suppose I am going to be killed before I can leave this house!” In his eyes was the dying-swan look. Through the windows could be seen the snow turning blue in the shadow of dusk. The wind tore at the house, and some loose thing beat regularly against the clapboards like a spirit tapping.

Related Symbols: Cards, Blue, The Blizzard
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:
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Section 4 Quotes

“Well, what do you think makes him act that way?” asked the cowboy.

“Why, he's frightened.” The Easterner knocked his pipe against a rim of the stove. “He’s clear frightened out of his boots.”

“What at?” cried Johnnie and the cowboy together. The Easterner reflected over his answer.
“What at?” cried the others again.

“Oh, I don’t know, but it seems to me this man has been reading dime novels, and he thinks he’s right out in the middle of it—the shootin’ and stabbin’ and all.”

“But,” said the cowboy, deeply scandalized, “this ain’t Wyoming, ner none of them places. This is Nebrasker.”

Related Characters: The Cowboy (Bill) (speaker), The Easterner (Mr. Blanc) (speaker), Johnnie Scully (speaker), Pat Scully, The Swede, The Gambler
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:
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Section 5 Quotes

Of course the board had been overturned, and now the whole company of cards was scattered over the floor, where the boot of the men trampled the fat and painted kings and queens as they gazed with their silly eyes at the war that was waging above them.

Related Symbols: Cards
Page Number: 101
Explanation and Analysis:
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Section 6 Quotes

No snow was falling, but great whirls and clouds of flakes, swept up from the ground by the frantic winds, were streaming southward with the speed of bullets. The covered land was blue with the sheen of an unearthly satin, and there was no other hue save where, at the low, black railway station—which seemed incredibly distant—one light gleamed like a tiny jewel.

Related Symbols: The Train, Blue, The Blizzard
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:
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Section 8 Quotes

There was a great tumult, and then was seen a long blade in the hand of the gambler. It shot forward, and a human body, this citadel of virtue, wisdom, power, was pierced as easily as if it had been a melon. The Swede fell with a cry of supreme astonishment.

Page Number: 111-112
Explanation and Analysis:
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Section 9 Quotes

"Fun or not," said the Easterner, "Johnnie was cheating. I saw him. I know it. I saw him. And I refused to stand up and be a man. I let the Swede fight it out alone. And you—you were simply puffing around the place and wanting to fight. And then old Scully himself! We are all in it! This poor gambler isn't even a noun. He is kind of an adverb. Every sin is the result of a collaboration. We, five of us, have collaborated in the murder of this Swede. […] that fool of an unfortunate gambler came merely as a culmination, the apex of a human movement, and gets all the punishment.”

The cowboy, injured and rebellious, cried out blindly into this fog of mysterious theory: “Well, I didn't do anythin’, did I?”

Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Easterner (Mr. Blanc) Character Timeline in The Blue Hotel

The timeline below shows where the character The Easterner (Mr. Blanc) appears in The Blue Hotel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 1
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Vulnerability and Violence Theme Icon
...One is a “shaky and quick-eyed Swede,” one is a “tall bronzed cowboy,” and one—the Easterner—is a “silent little man.” So boisterous is Scully in his hospitality as he walks the... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Vulnerability and Violence Theme Icon
...directs the men to a basin of frigid water, and while the cowboy and the Easterner readily wash up, the Swede only hesitantly dips his fingers in. When Scully leaves to... (full context)
Section 2
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Vulnerability and Violence Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
...and the old farmer begin playing another game of cards, which the cowboy and the Easterner watch intently. The Swede remains separately by the window, though he seems intrigued by the... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Vulnerability and Violence Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
...partners with Johnnie, and the Swede is asked to join on the side of the Easterner. The Swede is hesitant to play, edging “nervously” toward the table, but finally throws his... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Vulnerability and Violence Theme Icon
...meaning he plays his cards aggressively and frequently slams his fist on the table. The Easterner and the Swede are unsettled by his intensity, looking “miserable” each time the cowboy throws... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Vulnerability and Violence Theme Icon
...room. He urges the other men to agree that his suspicions are valid, particularly the Easterner, but the latter says after “prolonged and cautious reflection” that he doesn't understand what the... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
...upstairs to pack his bags. Meanwhile, Scully questions the men downstairs, who state their innocence—the Easterner says that he “didn't see anything wrong at all” in the other men's behavior. Scully... (full context)
Section 4
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Vulnerability and Violence Theme Icon
Meanwhile, downstairs, the cowboy, span class="inline-character">Johnnie, and the Easterner are speculating on the reasons behind the Swede's strange behavior. The cowboy thinks, based on... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
...is just afraid, and that he is “okay now.” The other men nod at the Easterner, who they believe was right in his assumptions about the Swede acting out of fear.... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
...he says, he cannot throw the Swede out of the hotel. The cowboy and the Easterner agree with him. (full context)
Section 5
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Vulnerability and Violence Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
...at the “war” above them. Scully tries to shout to stop the fight, while the Easterner questions “What's the good of a fight over a game of cards?” (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Vulnerability and Violence Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
...Swede insists that Johnnie is cheating, but that latter insists that he is not. The Easterner begs the men to think about the rationality of their behavior by repeating that there... (full context)
Section 6
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
...looks in this moment like a Roman veteran. In the pause before the fight, the Easterner takes a mental snapshot of the scene. He captures the “iron-nerved master of the ceremony”... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
...cheer. However, the Swede gets back up and then leans against a nearby tree. The Easterner notices that the man’s situation is marked by the “splendor of isolation.”  Johnnie is finally... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Vulnerability and Violence Theme Icon
...ashamed of himself. The girls who join her “sniff disdainfully” at the cowboy and the Easterner, who are referred to as “accomplices.” (full context)
Section 7
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
...agreeing in unison at the hurt they would cause the Swede if they could. The Easterner remains conspicuously silent. (full context)
Section 9
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Vulnerability and Violence Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
A few months later, the cowboy and the Easterner meet up near the Dakota state line. The Easterner tells the cowboy that the gambler... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
The Easterner and the cowboy both feel sorry for the gambler. Yet when the Easterner suggests the... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
The cowboy balks at the Easterner’s accusation. He shouts, “injured and rebellious ... into this fog of mysterious theory,” asking the... (full context)