The Short Story “a Bride Comes to Yellow Sky”
The short story “A Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” focuses around Yellow Sky’s town martial, Jack Potter, during a time when many important changes are occurring in his life. In the story Potter is returning from a trip to San Antonio.
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He had gone there simply “to meet a girl he believed he loved” but while he was there he impulsively married her. Now bringing her home, Jack Potter is fearful of the changes this action signifies, and how it will be received by his friends in Yellow Sky.
Yellow Sky has remained representative of the old west, and has perhaps resisted change longer than most areas, so he realizes that a major change such as his marriage might be received unfavorably. In the end however change is inevitable, and a short trip away from his home has caused many changes in Jack Potter, and in his life. The Changes with Potter seemed to have all started by his trip to San Antonio. A simple thing, such as a change in environment, and Potter’s actions changed dramatically.
On the train returning to Yellow Sky the changes in Potter become more apparent. There are many changes; he is experiencing new actions such as splurging and tipping, he is now a newly married man and acts the part, and he has new clothes in the form of a black suit, which only emphasizes his rough appearance. Being a town martial, a black suit would be an uncommon and impractical thing for him to wear while outside, keeping order in a hot dusty town. Potter and his new wife are also returning first class, which Potter, not being any sort of business man, and living on the wages he would earn as a town martial, would not normally do.
It is an extravagance, but because of his new marriage he wanted to treat himself and his wife and “go the whole thing. ” His wife also notices this, exclaiming at the price of a meal in the parlour-car, asking if it isn’t too much for them. To this Potter replies “Not this trip, anyhow,” seeing the elegant furnishing, and the cost of everything as all as being reflective of “the glory or their marriage” and of the changes being a positive thing. The newly married couple is so happy, and shyly enjoying the new experience of the train and each other so much, that the other passengers take notice and are amused by them.
Though clumsy at times, and obviously new to such actions as tipping, and dealing with porters, Potter is also excited, showing off the train to his wife proudly. The train car itself represents changes in Potter, and his pride in showing it to his wife shows that Potter is glad of the changes and is embracing them. Despite this, Potter is also nervous, evident by his hands which “were always performing in the most conscious fashion”, not because he himself dislikes the changes, but he fears Yellow Sky might not be so willing to accept them.
Yellow Sky is a town that is seemingly unchanging, but even in this small town things are moving forward. There is a new hotel, and there is a drummer in from out of town, there to sell new goods and talk of new things he has seen elsewhere. The salesman himself would be a change from the norm, and though the townsfolk allow him to be there, they do not really accept him, not participating in conversation with him in the bar, and appearing to be somewhat wary of him. In Yellow Sky is a man named Scratchy Wilson.
Normally quite a harmless man, he goes gun crazy and becomes a bit violent when he drinks. He is the “last one of the old gang that used to hang out along the river”, and in many ways represents the old ways. Still, even he shows some signs of being affected by change, such as wearing a new shirt from New York. In the past, whenever Scratchy had been drinking and went looking to cause trouble, Potter was there to keep the peace. This time when he has been drinking, Potter isn’t immediately there to deal with him as he normally would, by going out and fighting him.
Going on a bit of a rampage, Scratchy calls for a fight, looking for Potter, wanting events to progress as they had on previous occasion. When no offer of a fight is forthcoming Scratchy becomes confused, and finally decides to seek out Potter himself by going to Potter’s home. He calls for Potter to come out, but because Potter and his wife have not arrived yet Scratchy can only continue to yell challenges. When Potter does arrive however, Scratchy finds not his old antagonist but a different man, a changed Potter.
Despite most everything else being basically the same, this one important element is different. This new Potter carries no gun and tries to put off the fight, which shocks Scratchy because Potter has never been seen without his gun, nor has he ever been unwilling to fight Scratchy. Scratchy then becomes even more shocked when he discovers that Potter is not carrying a gun because he has just arrived with his new wife from San Antonio. In the face of this change Scratchy decides that the fight must be off, not knowing what else to do in these different circumstances. He was not a student of chivalry; it was merely that in the presence of this foreign condition he was a simpler child of the earlier plains. ” No longer rampaging, he now acts like a disappointed child, sulking and dragging his feet as he leaves, submissive to the new way of things. It would seem that Potter will no longer have to fight Scratchy during one of Scratchy’s drinking bouts as he has had to often in the past. This is one of the many things that it seems will be different in his new life.
Many changes occur in this story, most of which are surrounding Potter. Although his life seems to have been the same routine for quite some time, even he cannot resist change forever, and finally away from the restraining eye of Yellow Sky change happens quickly and naturally to him. These changes are seen as even more pronounced because of how suddenly they occurred. As is usually the case, one change leads to another, and soon Potter is nearly a different person, with different ideals, priorities, and mannerisms.
He has new life; he no longer carries a gun with him everywhere, and he doesn’t wish to fight because of a new wife. These differences cause change to come over even Scratchy, who was the last of his kind and represented an older way of things. Scratchy is forced to change, and to concede that things must be different to accept these changes. In the end it seems that what started as a simple trip to San Antonio led to a sequence of many events and many changes in the life of Jack Potter, causing his life to be quite different from what it was before.