What is the significance of the setting in "The Bride comes to Yellow Sky?"

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Stephen Crane's short story, "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky," Potter and his new wife travel to, and arrive in, the town of Yellow Sky. Jack Potter is the local marshal and has gone to San Antonio to bring home his new bride, who remains nameless in the story.

As the story begins, Crane provides the setting of the plains of Texas as Potter and his wife travel by railway:

Vast flats of green grass, dull-hued spaces of mesquite and cactus, little groups of frame houses, woods of light and tender trees, all were sweeping into the east, sweeping over the horizon, a precipice.

In that the marriage of Jack Potter and his wife is so new, the setting may be symbolic of the life the Potters are embarking on, much as the new life those on the Texan frontier are trying to build.

There are flat spaces of grass, mesquite and cacti; the color is described as "dull-hued," which means it lacks color, perhaps inferring that it lacks life, growth or prosperity because it has been there so little time. They pass clusters of little houses that are trying to thrive in this new and perhaps less than hospitable environment. The trees are young and "tender," sweeping into the east, an allusion that the east might be gentler to new settlers than the Texan frontier.

The setting of "newness and sparseness," and a sense that comes with it of building a new life and surviving seems to reflect directly upon Jack Potter in the step he has taken in bringing home a wife. While there may not be much of a relationship between them yet to speak of, in time there is the hope that the marriage will prosper as will the small communities described.


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The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

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