The Blue Hotel


Stephen Crane

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Themes and Colors
Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Theme Icon
Vulnerability and Violence Theme Icon
Judgment and Deception Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Blue Hotel, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Fate, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility

“The Blue Hotel” tells the story of an ill-fated night at a hotel in Romper, Nebraska, which ends in the death of one of the hotel’s guests. Author Stephen Crane narrates a clear but complex set of events that precede the Swede’s murder. Early in the story, upon his arrival at the Palace Hotel, the Swede predicts that he will die that night; this fear produces a distinctly irritable, antagonistic sense of paranoia that…

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Vulnerability and Violence

“The Blue Hotel” is set in Nebraska at the end of the nineteenth century, a time when the state represented the edges of the lawless American West. It was dangerous to travel west during this period, and as such the story's main characters, each of whom is traveling alone, often hide their true feelings in order to project a sense of strength upon the strangers they meet. This false bravado, however only leads to a…

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Judgment and Deception

The characters in “The Blue Hotel” are all strangers to each other when they arrive on the train, and three of them—the cowboy, the Easterner, and the Swede—are new to the small town of Romper, Nebraska altogether. Repeatedly described as tense and suspicious of their companions, the characters rely primarily on surface appearances to size each other up. By offering little to no backstory for his protagonists, Crane creates an environment…

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