The first sequence of the story which describes Marshal Potter and his new bride on the train to Yellow Sky is full of subtle social humor. The narrative implies that they are a slightly odd couple: he is obviously from the frontier and is also tanned from his days spent in the open air. His bride is naive and innocent – she has never been on a train before. The other passengers and even the waiters on the train treat them with an amused, sardonic condescension, of which the married couple are completely unaware. It is also amusing too that as they get nearer to Yellow Sky the marshal (in conventional western myth a heroic figure who takes on gun-fighters and armed criminals with ease) begins to fret and worry about the community reaction to his getting married.
Crane shifts the scene to the Weary Gentleman Saloon, and another stereotype is parodied in the drummer – a traveling salesman and city slicker who is scared to death by the casual way the locals talk about the possibility of violence once news reaches them that Scratchy Wilson is drunk, on the loss and looking for trouble. The innocent drummer conforms to the stereotype of outsiders to the Wild West and nervously sits down behind the bar to avoid any stray bullets fired by Scratchy.
Scratchy Wilson himself conforms to the cliché of the town’s Bad Man, issuing threats and shooting randomly at things for fun, while shouting out challenges and oaths to the whole town. He torments a dog, tries to get into the bar and shoots a few windows out. It then occurs to him to seek out Marshall Potter. At the climax of the stories that Crane was parodying there would be a gunfight, with the forces of right defeating the likes of Scratchy Wilson. But, because of his marriage, Potter is unarmed and the story ends in comic bathos: even Scratchy Wilson will not shoot an unarmed man who has just got married.
Crane, Stephen. ‘The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky.’ 1898. Pages 920 – 927 in Baym, Nina. The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Volume C, 6th edition. 2003. New York: W. W. Norton and Company.