In the story "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" by Stephen Crane, Scratchy Wilson does not shoot Jack Potter. Why not?

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In Stephen Crane’s short story “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky ,” Scratchy Wilson runs into a situation he is ill equipped to deal with. It was a well-known fact in Yellow Sky that when Scratchy Wilson was drinking, trouble was sure to follow. Usually, Jack Potter, the...

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In Stephen Crane’s short story “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky,” Scratchy Wilson runs into a situation he is ill equipped to deal with. It was a well-known fact in Yellow Sky that when Scratchy Wilson was drinking, trouble was sure to follow. Usually, Jack Potter, the town marshal, was the person responsible for keeping the peace.

Unbeknownst to the citizens of Yellow Sky, Potter got married in San Antonio that morning, and was currently traveling home with his wife on the train that stopped in their outpost town. The couple attempts to sneak into town, and back to Jack’s house before any town’s people see him. But Scratchy, having left the center of town, is already on his way.

Scratchy confronts Jack Potter as he arrives home with his new wife. Although Scratchy wants a gun fight with Jack, he is informed about Jack’s new circumstances, and told Jack is not carrying a gun. It is the perfect time for Wilson to take his shot, but he is in foreign territory. Jack is married, he has a wife. To Scratchy, who is a man of the “earlier plains,” he is not quite sure how to handle the situation, but he knows it means change. A man does not raise his gun to another in front of his wife. Jack’s marriage represents the slow creeping of civilization into Yellow Sky.

"I ain't got a gun because I've just come from San Anton' with my wife. I'm married," said Potter.

"And if I'd thought there was going to be any galoots like you prowling around when I brought my wife home, I'd had a gun, and don't you forget it."

 "Married!" said Scratchy, not at all comprehending.

 "Yes, married. I'm married," said Potter distinctly.

 "Married?" said Scratchy. Seemingly for the first time he saw the drooping, drowning woman at the other man's side. "No!" he said. He was like a creature allowed a glimpse of another world. He moved a pace backward, and his arm with the revolver dropped to his side. "Is this the lady?" he asked.

 "Yes, this is the lady," answered Potter.

 There was another period of silence.

 "Well," said Wilson at last, slowly, "I s'pose it's all off now."

 "It's all off if you say so, Scratchy. You know I didn't make the trouble." Potter lifted his valise.

 "Well, I 'low it's off, Jack," said Wilson. He was looking at the ground. "Married!" He was not a student of chivalry; it was merely that in the presence of this foreign condition he was a simple child of the earlier plains. He picked up his starboard revolver, and placing both weapons in their holsters, he went away. His feet made funnel-shaped tracks in the heavy sand.

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