The Blue Hotel


Stephen Crane

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The Blue Hotel: Section 3 Summary & Analysis

Scully goes upstairs to find the Swede, who is packing his suitcase. The Swede is startled to see Scully's shadow in the door, as the proprietor resembles “a murderer.” Scully asks the Swede if he's gone “daffy,” and the Swede admits that he was sure the men were going to kill him. Scully says he can't understand how Swede got that idea into his head and redirects the conversation by talking about an electric streetcar that they are planning to run through town, along with a new railroad.
Scully's appearance as a “murderer” reflects the Swede's building paranoia, and also suggests Scully's role in forcing the men to remain together (and thus his contribution to the escalating tensions). Scully’s excitement over the new electric streetcar and railroad, meanwhile, underscore Fort Romper’s current isolation and relative lawlessness. The train in particular is a symbol in the story of a link to modern civilization.
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The Swede tries to pay his dues and leave, but Scully refuses to take his money. Instead, he urges the Swede to follow him into another room, where he shows him pictures of his children. Scully talks about his dead daughter Carrie as well as his son Michael, who is a successful lawyer. The Swede pays no attention to the photographs, instead looking at the “gloom in the rear” of the room. Before Scully lets the Swede go downstairs with his suitcase, he reaches under the bed and finds a bottle of whiskey. He urges the Swede to drink, but the Swede looks skeptically at Scully and at the bottle. He grimaces at Scully when he takes a drink, as if he thinks the liquor might be poisoned. As the Swede drinks, he “laugh[s] wildly” with “his lips curled absurdly around the bottle.”
Instead of allowing himself to bond with Scully, the Swede is distracted by his own paranoia and the dangers he suspects might be lurking in the dark corners of the room. The Swede's laughter as he drinks what he suspects is a poisoned bottle of whiskey demonstrates that he feels helpless against his fate; he only tries half-heartedly to refuse the drink, and eventually holds the bottle up to his lips as if he knows he is destined to die.
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