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 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."
"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!"
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.
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.
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.