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There is evidence of irony in Stephen Crane’s short story “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky.”
Jack Potter, the town police officer, is bringing his new bride back to the small Texas town of Yellow Sky. In his mind, Jack believes “the train was hurrying him toward a scene of surprise, merriment, and blame.” In reality, it brought him back to an encounter with a drunken Scratchy Wilson. Scratchy has a reputation for being a fighter, especially a gun fighter, when he is drunk.
While Scratchy, who represents the “wild west,” is looking for a fight, he heads to the town saloon. It is ironic that the men in the saloon express a wish that Jack Potter was back from San Antonio. They know Scratchy’s demeanor and that Jack Potter is the one to deal with it. Unbeknownst to them at that moment an unarmed Jack and his new wife are sneaking back into town from their wedding in San Antonio.
Scratchy encounters the couple as he cruises the town while he continues to look for a gunfight. He has the perfect opportunity to shoot Jack since he is unarmed and with his new wife. Ironically, when Scratchy hears the news that Jack is married all fight goes out of him. The idea of Jack Potter being married is foreign to him as is seeing Jack’s wife standing there outside the house. Although Jack’s wife is a rather minor character in the story, it is ironic that she ends up playing an important role in calming Scratchy’s fighting spirit. His confusion at the situation makes for an ironic ending.
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