The Blue Hotel

by

Stephen Crane

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The gambler is a particularly strange character in the story–described as being duplicitous yet accepted by the other men in town because of his charming, gracious behavior and willingness to adapt to his place in the status quo. He is depicted both as a conman and a family man, and in the eyes of the townsfolk, his care for his family indicates his respectability despite his career as a swindler. The Swede gets angry at the gambler and his companions when they won't agree to drink with him and question the Swede’s denunciation of Scully and the Palace Hotel. When the Swede then starts a brawl with the men, the gambler pulls out a knife and stabs the Swede in the gut. The gambler then leaves, asking the barkeeper Henry to send for the police. The Easterner later refers to the gambler as only “the apex of a human movement”–meaning that, while the gambler takes action in killing the Swede, he is in some ways more innocent then the men who drove the Swede to act so rashly in the first place.

The Gambler Quotes in The Blue Hotel

The The Blue Hotel quotes below are all either spoken by The Gambler or refer to The Gambler. 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 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:
Section 8 Quotes

He was, in fact, a man so delicate in manner, when among people of fair class, and so judicious in his choice of victims, that in the strictly masculine part of the town's life he had come to be explicitly trusted and admired. People called him a thoroughbred. […] Besides, it was popular that this gambler had a real wife and two real children in a neat cottage in a suburb, where he led an exemplary home life; and when any one even suggested a discrepancy in his character, the crowd immediately vociferated descriptions of this virtuous family circle.

Related Characters: The Swede, The Gambler
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

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:

The corpse of the Swede, alone in the saloon, had its eyes fixed upon a

dreadful legend that dwelt atop of the cash-machine: “This registers the

amount of your purchase.”

Related Characters: The Swede, The Gambler
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Get the entire The Blue Hotel LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Blue Hotel PDF

The Gambler Character Timeline in The Blue Hotel

The timeline below shows where the character The Gambler appears in The Blue Hotel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 8
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
...at the blue hotel. The other men in the bar, including a few merchants and the gambler , take notice of him. The gambler is a particularly strange character, respected by people... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Vulnerability and Violence Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
...him because he was boasting about fighting Johnnie. He gets up to start a fight. The gambler encourages him to sit down, talking calmly despite the Swede's aggression. The gambler says to... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
The other men run out of the bar, and the bartender looks shocked. The gambler cleans his knife and calmly tells the bartender to tell the police that they can... (full context)
Section 9
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Vulnerability and Violence Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
...the Easterner meet up near the Dakota state line. The Easterner tells the cowboy that the gambler got a three-year sentence for killing the Swede. The two speculate on why he got... (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 Swede wouldn’t have been killed if everything “had... (full context)