The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Stephen Crane's The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Stephen Crane

One of the most celebrated writers of American realistic, naturalistic, and impressionistic literature, Stephen Crane grew up in Newark, New Jersey, the youngest in a family of fourteen children. Crane inherited a love of writing from his father, a Methodist minister, and his deeply religious mother, both of whom wrote religious articles. At the age of fourteen, Crane wrote his first short story, “Uncle Jake and the Bell Handle.” From 1880-1890, Crane attended both the Hudson River Institute and the Claverack College. He then transferred to LaFayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania and Syracuse University in upstate New York, but his studies lasted a mere two years. In 1891, he left college for New York City, where he worked for the New York Tribune and lived among the bohemian and downtrodden residents of the city’s infamous Bowery district. Crane’s firsthand experience with poverty in the Bowery influenced his first book, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893), a searing tale of a girl’s life in the slums that he published himself under a pseudonym. In 1895, Crane published his most famous novel, The Red Badge of Courage, a work renowned for its realistic depiction of Civil War combat. Following the international success of Red Badge, Crane worked as a war correspondent in Greece covering the Greco-Turkish War. He then moved to England in 1897, where he continued to write, but his subsequent novels failed to match The Red Badge of Courage’s critical and commercial success. By 1900, Crane’s health deteriorated, and in May of that year, he checked into a German health spa, where he died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-eight.
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Historical Context of The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

Literary naturalism emerged as an outgrowth of realism. In literature, realism was a response to Romanticism, which emphasized the intense spiritual and emotional sides of human existence—often as experienced by the economic and social elite—as a means of experiencing the sublime, or greatness, in all things. Realism, by contrast, focused on the mundane, everyday experiences of common people. Naturalism built on realism’s emphasis on the common and mundane by adding a philosophical position exemplified in the French writer Emil Zola’s phrase “human beasts,” which suggests that people are influenced and driven by their surroundings. The British naturalist Charles Darwin, whose work On the Origin of Species emphasized how environment shaped the development of organisms, also influenced naturalistic writers like Stephen Crane. Although naturalist writers often depicted the ignorance and poverty of human society in pessimistic shades, their work emphasized that the first step towards alleviating human suffering was to acknowledge and accept its existence.

Other Books Related to The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

Literary scholars consider Stephen Crane to be among the originators of American naturalism. Literary naturalism as a movement began in the late-nineteenth century (1865-1900). It applies the scientific principles of detachment and objectivity to depict how human beings are products of their environment, social conditions, and heredity. Naturalism is therefore both deterministic and pessimistic. Naturalistic writers like Crane downplay the idea of free will and instead present humans as victims of forces beyond their control. Naturalism is interrelated with realism (which focuses on literary technique), and Crane worked in both genres throughout his life. Other related works of naturalism include two of Crane’s other acclaimed short stories. In “The Open Boat,” a group of stranded seamen face the merciless ocean, while “The Blue Hotel” is another western story that centers on a man whose increasingly violent reactions to his surroundings lead to his premature death. Beyond Crane’s work, Jack London’s short story “To Build a Fire,” which follows a man’s doomed attempt to survive the brutally cold temperatures in the Yukon Territory, exemplifies the naturalistic theme of “man versus nature.” Another work of the naturalistic genre, Frank Norris’s novel McTeague, depicts how the forces of greed and jealousy destroy the life of a young California dentist. Theodore Dreiser’s novel Sister Carrie likewise follows the ways unsavory social forces, such as poverty and licentiousness, influence the titular character Carrie as she tries to survive in urban America.
Key Facts about The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky
  • Full Title: The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky
  • When Written: 1897-98
  • Where Written: England
  • When Published: 1898
  • Literary Period: Realism and Naturalism
  • Genre: Short story, Western, Naturalistic, Realistic
  • Setting: The train and Yellow Sky, Texas
  • Climax: Jack Potter narrowly avoids a gunfight with Scratchy Wilson
  • Antagonist: Scratchy Wilson
  • Point of View: Third person

Extra Credit for The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

Life Partner. In 1897, Stephen Crane met a woman named Cora Taylor, who owned a combination nightclub, hotel, and brothel in Jacksonville, Florida, called Hotel de Dream. Taylor became Crane’s common-law wife despite her still being legally married to another man.

True Commitment. During his time as a reporter in New York, Crane worked “undercover” in the downtrodden Bowery district. He often dressed as a hobo and spent nights on the streets enduring freezing snow and drenching rain in order to realistically depict homelessness in America’s biggest city.