The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

by

Stephen Crane

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Jack Potter Character Analysis

Jack Potter is the story’s protagonist and the bride’s new husband. He As the marshal of the West Texas town of Yellow Sky, Potter functions as the story’s hero and the antagonist of the drunken, gun-slinging frontier outlaw, Scratchy Wilson. The town residents respect Marshal Potter because he is cool-headed, refined, and dedicated to upholding the law, and Potter in turn, is dedicated to the town. At the beginning of the story, Potter is riding in a Pullman passenger car on a westbound train back to Yellow Sky after getting married in San Antonio. He is happy about his new marriage, but he is also apprehensive because he didn’t tell anyone in Yellow Sky that he planned to wed. During his visit to San Antonio, Potter transforms himself from a Wild-West lawman into a refined married man, though he is still adjusting to this change. His worries about how the town will react to his marriage suggests that Potter is not fully comfortable with his new status as a respectable married man and that his loyalty to the town is deeply rooted. Nonetheless, Potter looks forward to a quiet life at home in Yellow Sky, making him a symbol of change.

Jack Potter Quotes in The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

The The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky quotes below are all either spoken by Jack Potter or refer to Jack Potter. 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:
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Thrift Editions edition of The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky published in 1993.
Part 1 Quotes

To the minds of the pair, their surroundings reflected the glory of their marriage that morning in San Antonio. This was the environment of their new estate, and the man's face in particular beamed with an elation that made him appear ridiculous to the negro porter.

Related Characters: Jack Potter, The Porter
Related Symbols: Pullman Passenger Car, The Bride
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

As a matter of truth, Jack Potter was beginning to find the shadow of a deed weigh upon him like a leaden slab.

Related Characters: Jack Potter
Related Symbols: The Bride
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2 Quotes

"You see," he whispered, "this here Scratchy Wilson is a wonder with a gun a perfect wonder—and when he goes on the war trail, we hunt our holes—naturally. He’s about the last one of the old gang that used to hang out along the river here. He's a terror when he’s drunk. When he’s sober he's all right—kind of simple—wouldn't hurt a fly—nicest fellow in town. But when he's drunk—whoo!"

Related Characters: The Barkeeper (speaker), Jack Potter, The Drummer
Related Symbols: Scratchy Wilson
Page Number: 84-85
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3 Quotes

A man in a maroon-colored flannel shirt, which had been purchased for purposes of decoration, and made principally by some Jewish women on the East Side of New York, rounded a corner and walked into the middle of the main street of Yellow Sky. In either hand the man held a long, heavy, blue-black revolver. Often he yelled, and these cries rang through a semblance of a deserted village, shrilly flying over the roofs in a volume that seemed to have no relation to the ordinary vocal strength of a man. It was as if the surrounding stillness formed the arch of a tomb over him. These cries of ferocious challenge rang against walls of silence. And his boots had-red tops with gilded imprints, of the kind beloved in winter by little sledding boys on the hillsides of New England.

Related Characters: Jack Potter
Related Symbols: The Bride, Scratchy Wilson
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 4 Quotes

There was a silence. Potter's mouth seemed to be merely a grave for his tongue. He exhibited an instinct to at once loosen his arm from the woman’s grip, and he dropped the bag to the sand. As for the bride, her face had gone as yellow as old cloth. She was a slave to hideous rites, gazing at the apparitional snake.

Related Characters: Jack Potter
Related Symbols: The Bride, Scratchy Wilson
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

He was stiffening and steadying, but yet somewhere at the back of his mind a vision of the Pullman-floated, the seagreen figured velvet, the shining brass, silver, and glass, the wood that gleamed as darkly brilliant as the surface of a pool of oil—all the glory of the marriage, the environment of the new estate.

Related Characters: Jack Potter (speaker)
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

He was like a creature allowed a glimpse of another world. He moved a pace backward, and his arm, with the revolver, dropped to his side.

Related Characters: Jack Potter
Related Symbols: The Bride, Scratchy Wilson
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:

He was not a student of chivalry; it was merely that in the presence of this foreign condition he was a simple child of the earlier plains. He picked up his starboard revolver, and, placing both weapons in their holsters, he went away. His feet made funnel-shaped tracks in the heavy sand.

Related Characters: Jack Potter
Related Symbols: The Bride
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky PDF

Jack Potter Character Timeline in The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

The timeline below shows where the character Jack Potter appears in The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
...“frame houses” dotting the landscape. Traveling in one of the train’s Pullman passenger cars is Jack Potter and his new bride. Despite his weather-beaten face and hands, Potter is dressed elegantly... (full context)
Domesticity, Gender, and Feminine Authority Theme Icon
Potter and the bride are both thrilled to be riding in the train and look forward... (full context)
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Domesticity, Gender, and Feminine Authority Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
The black porter observes Potter and the bride in amusement, thinking them “ridiculous” in their wonder and obvious inexperience. As... (full context)
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
...of the meal. The waiter is merely doing his job, but his “ordinary deference” impresses Potter and the bride, who are not used to such a refined dining experience. (full context)
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
After the couple finish their meal, they return to their coach. Potter looks out the window and notices the Rio Grande, which apexes at the town of... (full context)
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
Although Potter knows that he has not broken any official rules, he is so devoted to the... (full context)
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Domesticity, Gender, and Feminine Authority Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
The train arrives at the station in Yellow Sky and the porter announces that Potter’s home is nearby. The porter brushes off Potter’s suit and hands him his bag, and... (full context)
Part 2
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
Only Jack Potter can stop Wilson, the patrons claim. They tell the drummer that Potter is the... (full context)
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
...sober, the barkeeper adds, alcohol turns Wilson into “a terror.” As the barkeeper laments that Jack Potter is not in town to deal with Wilson, he hears a shot in the... (full context)
Part 3
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Domesticity, Gender, and Feminine Authority Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
...windows. Wilson, however, soon gets bored shooting at dogs and saloons, and “the name of Jack Potter, his ancient antagonist, entered his mind.”   (full context)
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Domesticity, Gender, and Feminine Authority Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
Sensing that only Jack Potter can give him the fight he craves, Scratchy Wilson heads towards the marshal’s house... (full context)
Part 4
Domesticity, Gender, and Feminine Authority Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
While Scratchy Wilson rails outside Jack Potter’s house, Potter and the bride walk “sheepishly” and “with speed” in the direction of... (full context)
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Domesticity, Gender, and Feminine Authority Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
As the two men face each other down at three paces apart, Scratchy Wilson accuses Jack Potter of plotting an ambush and warns his antagonist not to reach for his gun.... (full context)
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Domesticity, Gender, and Feminine Authority Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
A flustered Wilson accuses Potter of lying about his weapon and claims “there ain’t a man in Texas” who has... (full context)
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Domesticity, Gender, and Feminine Authority Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
Potter’s marriage leaves Scratchy dumbfounded. As he glimpses the “drooping, drowning woman” at Potter’s side, Wilson... (full context)
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Domesticity, Gender, and Feminine Authority Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
...“a simple child of the earlier plains” who is unaccustomed to the “foreign condition” of Jack’s marriage. A deflated Scratchy Wilson puts his revolvers back into their holsters and walks away.... (full context)