RARA-AVIS: More Crane

From: Robison Michael R CNIN ( Robison_M@crane.navy.mil)
Date: 21 Oct 2002

After the MAGGIE novel, I read two short stories, "The Blue Hotel" and "The Open Boat". The first is about three train travelers lodging in a crummy hotel in Nebraska and the second is about four guys trying to make land in a 10 foot rowboat in rough seas.

All three of these works involved death. A common theme? I don't see that. MAGGIE is a sad piece of irony, an unblinking look at humans with no humanity. A hypocrititcal and cruel set of social values com- bines with a world of limited opportunity to destroy a person. I've seen this quite a bit here recently. A FEAST OF SNAKES and APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA fall into this category. Allowing for willing participation by the individual, maybe a third of the books I've read over the last few months would qualify.

"The Blue Hotel" tells about some crazy guy looking to get himself killed. When he is obliged, Crane has a character blaming a wide circle of people for the death with a very weak and unconvincing argument, especially after the plight of Maggie. I wasn't buying it, but it paralleled the very fashionable and modern belief that everybody but the criminal is guilty of his crimes.

"The Open Boat" has a Hemingway theme, with the four men in the boat and how the faced a very dangerous situation, and Hemingway's "grace under pressure" is definitely in the foreground.


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