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The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane- A Summary.
This story is written by Stephen Crane. It takes place at a Palace Hotel in Fort Romper, Nebraska. The story never really says what year the events take place, but the reader can tell by the way the people speak that it might have taken place around the 1800’s or so, if not earlier.
It starts out with a man named Patrick Scully waiting at a train station, trying to solicit guests for his hotel. Scully ends up finding three guests to bring back: a quiet Easterner, a paranoid Swede, and a rugged cowboy. He convinces them to come back by being extremely cheerful and nice.
When they come back to the hotel, Scully offers them anything they want to make their stay a pleasant one, possibly in hopes of them going out and telling their friends and neighbors. The story then introduces Scully’s son, Johnnie. Johnnie is fighting with a farmer about a card game. While that is going on, Scully calls in his daughters and tells them to cook a meal for the new guests. The old farmer starts a casual conversation with the Easterner and Cowboy, but the Swede is being really jumpy and refuses to speak.
By lunch, everyone is starting to notice the Swede’s paranoid behavior. Rather than engaging in conversation with Scully, he is more interested in the guests. He says he is scared of being in the West because of how dangerous it is. He then starts laughing loudly and making awkward gestures.
After lunch, everyone goes to the front room. Johnnie and the farmer start another game of cards. The farmer becomes angry again, calling Johnnie a cheater, and leaves. The Swede is still laughing during all of this. Johnnie then asks the guests if they would like to play cards. Johnnie and the cowboy are on one team. The Swede and Easterner are on the other.
The Swede can’t seem to stop his paranoid behavior, making the game extremely uncomfortable. He then proceeds to shock everyone by revealing why he has been so paranoid. He believes people have been murdered in the hotel. Nobody believes him, which makes him even more paranoid.
Scully joins the party and the Swede tells him that he believes the others are plotting to kill him. Scully is astonished and the men tell him that they have no idea what the Swede is talking about. The Swede says he is leaving, so Scully invites him in for a drink. The Swede believes the drink to be poisoned but drinks it anyway, convinced by Scully’s charm.
Scully returns to the party and tells the men that the Swede believes Scully poisoned the drink. Johnnie tells Scully that he wishes Scully would let the Swede leave, but Scully does not want to seem inhospitable in fear of his other guests leaving as well.
As the day progresses, the Swede’s aggression increases. He even hits Scully on his weak shoulder. Still, Scully will not tell him to leave. The Swede then asks everyone to join him in another game of cards. Soon after that though, the Swede gets very angry and accuses Johnnie of cheating, just as the farmer did before. The room turns to chaos as all the men begin arguing except for the Easterner and Scully. Finally, Johnnie tells the Swede to fight him. The Swede agrees. Fed up with the Swede’s rudeness, Scully goes along.
The men go outside in the freezing cold to watch the fight. The Swede protests, saying that the fight will be unfair because all the other men want him to lose. Scully assures him that the fight will be fair, though, so the Swede goes along with it. After the fight starts, the cowboy immediately starts rooting for Johnnie, telling him to kill the Swede. Johnnie loses though, after the Swede knocks him down twice.
The men go back inside, as the Swede goes upstairs to his room. Johnnie sits in front of the fire as everyone takes care of him. Scully is scolded by his wife and daughters for allowing the fight to happen.
The Swede comes back downstairs with his stuff and asks if he can pay Scully for his services. Scully refuses. The Swede makes a gesture to the cowboy before leaving, mimicking him when the cowboy was telling Johnnie to kill the Swede. After the Swede leaves, Scully and the cowboy tell each other how much they hated the Swede.
In a bar in town, the Swede sits down at a table with four other men. The men pay no interest when the Swede starts bragging about his fight. This angers the Swede, but he tries to buy the men drinks to try to catch their attention. They are still not interested and politely decline which angers the Swede even more. The Swede turns his attention to a gambler sitting with the men, trying to get him to accept the drink. When the Swede puts his hand on the gambler, the gambler slits his throat. The gambler walks out, telling the bartender to tell the cops that he will be at home.
Quite a while later, the cowboy and the Easterner run into each other. They had already learned of the Swede’s death. The Easterner comments about how the Swede’s death was the fault of everyone because he never would have fought Johnnie if Johnnie had not cheated. The cowboy does not want to hear of it. He doesn't feel guilty at all by the Swede’s death. The Easterner points out that the cowboy wanted a fight, which is why it is partly his fault. The story ends with the Easterner expressing pity on the cowboy, and the cowboy dismissing it.