by Stephen Crane | Grades 9-12
"The Blue Hotel" is considered one of Crane's finest three short novels, along with the "Open Boat" and "The Bride comes to Yellow Sky". The story starts with the hotel owner trolling for guests at the train station and finding three: the Swede, the Cowboy, and the Easterner. As with many stories, the personalities are known by their titles not their names; the two known by their names are the hotel keeper, Scully, and his son Johnny.
The first major event is in a play for fun (no money) card game in which the Swede accuses Johnny of cheating. Johnny skillfully defends himself by saying he won't put up with the accusation, while side stepping the truth of the matter. The Swede is all worked up; no one comes to his rescue; he has a fight with the boy; wins; and leaves. He goes to the local saloon and gets into event number two in challenging the gambler after he won't take a drink. As with most Crane stories, the irony builds in layers as the story progresses.