Themes and Meanings
Crane’s frontier setting is essential to his theme, which concerns the conflict between the East and West and the passing of an era. While Yellow Sky is located in western Texas, it is accessible by train, which acts as a “vehicle” to bring Eastern civilization to the West. In fact, Yellow Sky has already been civilized, despite the anachronistic presence of Scratchy Wilson, who seems determined to preserve the “good old days.” Unfortunately, Scratchy’s clothes reveal the extent to which even he has been “Easternized”: He wears a “maroon-coloured flannel shirt” made by “some Jewish women on the East Side of New York,” and his red-topped boots have gilded imprints beloved by “little sledding boys on the hillsides of New England.”
At the end of the story Crane writes of Scratchy, “In the presence of this foreign condition he was a simple child of the earlier plains,” thereby indicating that Scratchy is a “holdover,” a man with ties to the Old West, but also that he is a “simple child.” In the story Crane depicts Scratchy not as a mature adult but as a child-man, an adult who refuses to “grow up.” His boots are related to children, and he “plays” with the town, which is described as a “toy for him.” When Jack tells him that he has no gun, Scratchy is concerned that he not be taken “for no kid,” and Jack himself seems to understand the importance of being treated as an adult for he assures Scratchy, “I...
(The entire section is 454 words.)