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Seven tales by Stephen Crane, published in 1899.

“The Monster,” a novelette set in Whilomville, N.Y., is a bitterly ironic commentary on the cruelty and lack of sympathy of ordinary people for an act of humanity they do not understand. Henry Johnson, a black servant in the home of Dr. Trescott, rescues the physician's young son from a fire. He is terribly disfigured and loses his sanity, so that no home can be found for him in the town. Horrified by the “monster,” the townspeople ostracize the doctor and his family because they harbor the man. It finally appears that Trescott has sacrificed his entire happiness for an ethical principle he formerly considered unquestionable. “The Blue Hotel” describes the events that lead to quarrels and a murder at a bar in a small Nebraska town. The victim, a stupid, paranoid Swede, who dies with his eyes fixed on the ironic and symbolic text on a cash register, “This registers the amount of your purchase,” is partly responsible for his own death, and his murderer is hardly more responsible than others involved in a sequence of events, although he is sentenced to the penitentiary, because “every sin is the result of a collaboration,” and the one who gets the punishment is the one who happens to be at “the apex of a human movement.” “His New Mittens” is concerned with the inner reactions of a small boy who runs away from home, and the remaining stories are studies of men in sensational situations or moments of intense excitement.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Stephen Crane (1871—1900) writer

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