Discrimination is a specific psychological feature that is almost impossible to avoid. The predisposition to discrimination could be aggravated under the influence of literature that contributes to the formation of particular stereotypes regarding places and people based not only on the place they come from but also their race, age, and gender. In some cases, discrimination intentions are not evident, but they are still present in the behavior and beliefs of people. The latter is the case described in The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane. In the short story, several types of discrimination could be identified. All of them are based on attitudes. Specifically, these are attitudes towards gender, Wild West, and law. One more type of discrimination as well traced in the short story is victimization.
The first type of discrimination described in the story is the prejudiced attitude towards gender. Specifically, the focus is made on the perception of manhood. Throughout the story, the idea of male bravado can be easily traced. It is a characteristic of the Swede when he enters the saloon. He believes that roughly is a respected trait of a man. This aspect of discrimination will be returned to later in the paper. As for now, another type of prejudiced attitude towards discrimination will be reviewed. At the very end of the story, the Easterner says that he saw that Johnnie was cheating. However, he “refused to stand up and be a man” (Crane 38), which points to the prejudiced belief that a man should be brave and fight for truth regardless of the possible consequences. Such discrimination is direct because it is related to one’s personal traits and, eventually, affects the perception of individuals.
One more type of discrimination mentioned in the story is as well direct. It derives from the perception of the Wild West that affects one’s behavior. This one is related to Swede’s behavior in the saloon mentioned above as well as his behavior at the very beginning of the story. In the hotel room, “he strode toward the men nervously, as if he expected to be assaulted” (Crane 5). It means that he was afraid of the men because his knowledge of the Wild West traditions was formulated under the influence of reading dime-novels (Crane 14), so he believed that he would be killed or hurt because he was right out in the middle of the Wild West with all its shooting and stabbing. Later, when he left the hotel and went to the saloon, he was proud to have beaten the local men and believed that he would be respected for his toughness. As a result, driven by this discrimination-related belief, he went too far and was killed due to being too demanding to the gambler and insisting that the gambler should drink with him (Crane 36). Recollecting the behavior of the Swede, it can be characterized as victimization, which is as well a type of discrimination. Particularly, he believed that something bad would happen to him because he was not the part of that wild world. All in all, what the Swede was afraid of actually happened to him but not because of what the Wild West was but due to his behavior.
Together with the attitude towards the Wild West, there is a slight hint at the attitude towards justice and law. Specifically, it is described at the end of the story when the Easterner and the cowboy quarrel about the three-year sentence for the gambler who killed the Swede. The focus is made on the supposedly just and right behavior that might have affected the outcome of the story. Specifically, the Eastern fails to understand that it was Swede’s fault that he was killed, not anyone else’s responsibility (Crane 38-39), so the announced sentence was just and based on the law. All in all, in this case, discrimination is based on failing to make proper conclusions and accept what happened, which, as a result, affect behavior.
- Crane, Stephen. The Blue Hotel. Harper Collins, 2009.