The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky | Study Guide

Stephen Crane

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The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky | Themes


Changes and Decisions

"The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" is primarily about change and decisions that cause major changes. These are not slow changes. Each change that happens in the story is abrupt and does not involve much thought from the character who makes the decision. Jack Potter quickly decides to marry the girl he meets in San Antonio. After he makes the decision and marries her, he thinks of the potential consequences he will face in Yellow Sky. The bride also makes the decision to get married which requires her to move from a larger city to a small town.

The story describes Jack's envisioned changes from the townspeople in general but focuses only on the change from Scratchy Wilson. When Wilson finds out that Jack is married, he quickly makes a decision that will change the future of Jack, himself, and the whole town. The reader is left to imagine what changes may come about in the town based on Wilson's change of mindset.


In "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky," Crane uses the relationships between people to show a resolution to one of the rocky relationships. First, Jack has a new relationship in his marriage. It is full of excitement and the promise of new love. It is also the catalyst for changes in other relationships he has. Next, he expects that his relationship with the townspeople will be changed because of his marriage. Then, he believes they will be upset with him and need time to adjust. Finally, we see Jack's relationship with Scratchy Wilson. The story states that they are enemies, and Wilson consistently looks for a fight with Jack. That relationship evolves quickly when Wilson learns that Jack is now married.


Fear plays a large part in "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky." Each character has a different type of fear. Jack and Jack's bride are a little afraid of their new life together but are also excited. Jack has a small amount of fear regarding the town's reaction to his news. All of the townspeople are afraid of Scratchy Wilson when he is drunk, and this fear is for their lives. The fear of the salesman in the saloon is based not on experience but on the townspeople's fear of Wilson. Scratchy Wilson and Jack are afraid of each other. Their current relationship is based upon this fear. Jack is afraid that Wilson will kill him or other townspeople during one of his drunken episodes. Wilson is afraid that Jack will arrest or kill him in retaliation for his troublemaking.

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