Stephen Crane in the News: “When a Crowd Gathers” at LOA


Stephen Crane’s sketches and articles for New York newspapers often describe people seen or things experienced on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The following narrative, originally published in The New York Press in 1894, is characteristic in its description of life on the streets; based on a real incident, it was published under the multi-level headline:


A Graphic Study of New York Heartlessness
“What’s the Matter?” That Too Familiar Query

Describing the “heartlessness” of a voyeuristic crowd pushing each other to get a view of a man having a seizure, the article also depicts a few strangers trying to help and the terror of the boy who had been accompanying the man. Michael Robertson notes in Stephen Crane, Journalism, and the Making of Modern American Literature that, while “Crane’s general indifference to race is remarkable,” this sketch is one of his few New York pieces that specifically mentions ethnicity: “the two central characters’ Italian speech is used to emphasize the threatening nature of the crowd.” [continue reading at above link] 

From Stephen Crane: Prose and Poetry

About Donna Campbell

Professor of English, Washington State University. Late nineteenth- and early 20th-century Americanist and digital humanities. and
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