Good Example Of Letting Go Of The Past Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Men, Development, Literature, Women, Crane, Control, Marriage, Face

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2020/11/06

“The Bride Comes to the Yellow Sky” takes place when modern civilization was swiftly sweeping over the Old West. The entire story represents the industrialization of transportation and the flood of women to be joined with once wild men in marriage. The fact that the bride was “not pretty, nor was she very young” also diminishes the amorous romance of the Wild West, of rescuing and wedding the young and beautiful damsel. Instead, Jack Potter’s marriage turns wedlock into just another natural consequence of rational and levelheaded progress.
Scratchy Wilson represents the last gasping breath of the Wild West, which is extinguished in the climax of the story—the thwarted gunfight. The archaic Western stereotype that Wilson insists upon perpetuating is quickly shunted by the jarring image of progress in the form of a just-married woman dressed in blue cashmere with puff sleeves, “very stiff, straight and high” (Crane 1). The unseemly bride does not need to say any words to communicate the message of civilization, which found its way back to the Old West. The abrupt ending finalizes with the slumped morale of the previously hot-blooded man: “Well,” said Wilson at last, slowly, “I s’pose it's all off now” (Crane 1). The inevitable had finally materialized right before the eyes of the most unbelieving and the most staunchly resistant: “It was merely that in the presence of this foreign condition he was a simple child of the earlier plains” (Crane 1). Therefore, the gunplay that had once epitomized manliness and authority was now a thing of the dusty past.
As it was for Wilson, the past can be a tempting place to remain. Change is the most inevitable thing in our lives, yet most people are terrified of it. Furthermore, nothing frightens human beings more than the unknown. The ultimate consequence of this deep-seated fear is the terror that arises at the thought of what happens after death, the lurking unknown of what will be of us when we are no longer alive. Being afraid of death naturally results in being afraid to live—particularly amongst the illimitable possibilities that being alive affords. To cope with this fear of change and loss of control, and ultimately the grand fear of death, one can convince him or her self of a certain reality. This is so, because it lends the illusion of control.
Control is the most addicting substance in the human mind, as well as its counterpart of the complete loss of control and the ensuing products of victimization, blame and self-pity. In order to perpetuate a sense—albeit false—of control, it is easy to remain stuck in the past. While progress and change can be esteemed as the necessary steps of humankind, especially within the inherently forward-looking soul of man, oftentimes men who have their worth locked in the past cannot face the potential withering of their identities. In the same way that Wilson was confronted with an unforgiving image of the present reality, which effectively nullified his latching onto the past, people attempt to trap themselves safely in their delusions.
The past can be a particularly alluring place to look back to for men. Men have a deep sensitivity to maintaining manliness. While femininity comes quite naturally to women in their nurturing tenderness and care, men feel the constant need to prove that he is a strong and capable man. This is not always so clear to both exhibit and prove. “Many men tried to revitalize manhood by celebrating all things male,” and this, like Wilson, was in the face of domestication and modernization that threatened the natural, bandit-like masculinity that had once reigned freely (Bederman 16). Even today, as billions of dollars circulate on a daily basis, and technology has enabled individuals to possess all the information in the world in a device that fits into their hand, men feel perhaps an even greater pressure to prove their worth as males. In the face of domestication and the increasing emotional need for women to be married and have children in a picturesque suburban dream, men feel their innate nature being threatened in the face of thankless demands and mundane routine. So they attach themselves to old fraternities or secret societies or immerse themselves in sports in an attempt to maintain their once-unbridled sense of manliness. This, too, can easily be neutered when the wife comes home with baby in hand and groceries in the car. And like Jack Potter’s wife, no words even need to be exchanged.

Works Cited

"Short Stories: The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky by Stephen Crane." Short Stories: The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky by Stephen Crane. Web. 9 Feb. 2015. <>.
Bederman, Gail. Manliness & Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1995. Print.

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