The Blue Hotel

by

Stephen Crane

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The Blizzard Symbol Analysis

The Blizzard  Symbol Icon

Crane uses the blizzard in “The Blue Hotel” to symbolize chaos and isolation. The increasingly harsh, unforgiving weather outside reflects the mounting violence between the Swede, the cowboy, the Easterner, and Johnnie inside the hotel. This is clearest when the blizzard winds burst through the hotel door and scatter the cards across the room. While the cards are symbolic of the men's attempts to control their fate, the chaos of the blizzard winds prove that these attempts are futile. The blizzard is also used as a narrative tool to enhance the feeling of isolation and alienation that Crane creates. At one point in the story, just after a confusing run-in with the Swede, the cowboy states that he “hopes we don't git snowed in, because then we'll have to stand this here man being around with us all the time.” The blizzard creates a sense of fear for the cowboy in this scene, and in this moment he demonstrates how the isolating effect of the blizzard forces the men to remain together despite their desire to escape. 

The Blizzard Quotes in The Blue Hotel

The The Blue Hotel quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Blizzard . 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 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:

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:
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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The Blizzard Symbol Timeline in The Blue Hotel

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Blizzard appears in The Blue Hotel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 2
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
...and watch a “turmoiling sea of snow” outside the hotel window. Scully announces that a blizzard has blown into town. The men don't seem bothered by this news, settling in with... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
...“the dying-swan look” in his eyes. At this moment, the Swede takes notice of the blizzard blowing “blue” snow outside.  Scully comes into the room and begins to ask the men... (full context)
Section 5
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Vulnerability and Violence Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
...Scully leaves to go to the station, a gust of wind comes in from the blizzard and scatters the cards across the floor. The wind “chills the players to the marrow,”... (full context)
Section 6
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
The men get dressed in their winter clothes and open the door to the blizzard. The wind blows the cards against the wall. It is bitterly cold, the landscape blue... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
...“heroic” and “brutish,” and the Swede, who is “pale, motionless, terrible.” All the while the blizzard wails “into the black abyss of the South” (full context)
Section 8
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
Outside, the Swede walks through the blizzard into town, following a line of barren trees. The town seems totally deserted, and the... (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
...that the night has been “good enough for [him].” The bartender then asks about the blizzard, and the Swede says that the weather “suits him.” (full context)
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
...house. The bartender leaves the Swede's body on the floor, and goes out into the storm in order to find help “and company.” The Swede's dead eyes are fixed on the... (full context)