The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

by

Stephen Crane

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Scratchy Wilson Symbol Analysis

Scratchy Wilson Symbol Icon

The desperado Scratchy Wilson, the story’s antagonist, symbolizes both the old frontier and stasis. Wilson is a relic of the legendary “Wild-West,” unaware that he now lives beyond his own time in an era where Eastern civilization has conquered the Western frontier. As “the last one of the old [outlaw] gang” for whom Jack Potter is an “ancient antagonist,” Wilson wants his world to remain unchanged. Wilson’s drunken outbursts and propensity for violence render him a Wild-West caricature who harkens back to a time when laws were few, gunshots quelled disputes, and vast open spaces remained inaccessible to all but the roughest hombres. Scratchy’s antagonistic relationship with Jack Potter provides a stasis that the outlaw finds familiar. Much like the devil (whose nickname, “Old Scratch,” echoes in Wilson’s own name), Scratchy thrives in constant conflict with Potter’s angel of the law. In marrying the bride, reveals Wilson to be little more than an anachronism of the old frontier that Eastern civilization has conquered.

Scratchy Wilson Quotes in The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

The The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky quotes below all refer to the symbol of Scratchy Wilson. 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 2 Quotes

The drummer's tale was interrupted by a young man who suddenly appeared in the open door. He cried: "Scratchy Wilson is drunk, and has turned loose with both hands." The two Mexicans at once set down their glasses and faded out of the rear entrance of the saloon. The drummer, innocent and jocular, answered: “All right, old man. S'pose he has? Come in and have a drink, anyhow."

Related Characters: The Young Man (speaker), The Drummer, The Mexican Sheepherders
Related Symbols: Scratchy Wilson
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

"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:
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Scratchy Wilson Symbol Timeline in The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

The timeline below shows where the symbol Scratchy Wilson appears in The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
...other patrons with fantastic tales until a young man enters the saloon and proclaims that Scratchy Wilson is drunk and “turned loose with both hands.” This news causes the two Mexican... (full context)
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
...of the man who is causing so much fear, and the patrons answer in chorus, “Scratchy Wilson!”  (full context)
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Domesticity, Gender, and Feminine Authority Theme Icon
The drummer unleashes a barrage of questions about Scratchy Wilson. “Will he kill anybody?” “Can he break down the door?” The barkeeper replies that... (full context)
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 town marshal who “goes... (full context)
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
The barkeeper tells the drummer that Scratchy Wilson is a “wonder with a gun” and “the last one of the old gang”... (full context)
Part 3
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Domesticity, Gender, and Feminine Authority Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
Scratchy Wilson rounds a corner and struts right into Yellow Sky’s main street. For “decoration,” he... (full context)
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
Incensed at the lack of attention he receives in the street, Scratchy turns towards the Weary Gentleman, where he confronts the barkeeper’s dozing dog. The dog, who... (full context)
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Domesticity, Gender, and Feminine Authority Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
Having finished tormenting the dog, Scratchy Wilson hammers the saloon’s door with his revolver and demands a drink. Unable to break... (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 “chanting Apache scalp-music.” When he arrives at the adobe... (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”... (full context)
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
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... (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”... (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 is “like a... (full context)
Frontier vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Domesticity, Gender, and Feminine Authority Theme Icon
Change vs. Stasis Theme Icon
Still perplexed, Scratchy is left “a simple child of the earlier plains” who is unaccustomed to the “foreign... (full context)