What effects does Crane achieve by his use of parallel time in the first three sections of "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky"?

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I'd say the primary effect of having the first three sections all overlapping temporally is suspense. This time structure allows for several literary devices to hit their mark, including foreshadowing and dramatic irony.

When Potter and his new wife finally arrive at Yellow Sky, they encounter no one but...

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I'd say the primary effect of having the first three sections all overlapping temporally is suspense. This time structure allows for several literary devices to hit their mark, including foreshadowing and dramatic irony.

When Potter and his new wife finally arrive at Yellow Sky, they encounter no one but the stationmaster, who "had turned and was running toward them, waving his arms." We know that Potter is expecting an unusual greeting from the town, having married unexpectedly in another city, but even the reader can tell that this sort of reaction is not appropriate for such an event. This is a warning and creates a sense of unease beyond the nervousness Potter has of introducing his wife to the town. But because Potter has been so preoccupied with his nervousness, he can't see the stationmaster's actions as possibly pertaining to anything else. Later, we learn that it must pertain to Scratchy Wilson's rampage, and is the first indicator that something is wrong in the town.

The near-simultaneous discussion between the men in the saloon further foreshadows a showdown between Scratchy and Potter. The traveling salesman character provides the perfect excuse for the locals to explain who Scratchy Wilson is and the trouble he causes, and that "Jack Potter . . . goes out and fights Scratchy when he starts acting this way." This foreshadowing, coupled with dramatic irony (the characters in the saloon believe Potter is still in San Antonio, while the reader knows he is in fact back in Yellow Sky) further establishes the feeling that something dangerous is looming ahead for our town policeman.

In the third section, we finally see Scratchy Wilson and his drunken anger in action. We have lost track of Jack Potter and his wife, so the reader cannot say for certain whether or not our hero is in his house when Wilson starts shooting it up; this ambiguity also plays into the suspense of the story, and when these timelines finally come together in the last section, the reader is genuinely worried for Potter, having seen how dangerous Scratchy Wilson can be.

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