Ominous Baby by Stephen Crane

The story, “the ominous baby” is probably the shortest story by Stephen crane. It is a story about a baby wondering in a strange country in tatters, yellow hair and soiled dress. The baby had sun-tanned knees and torn pair shoes from which peeped his toes. Walking in strange district, the boy looked pale and confused. For example, he gazed at the house cleaners and at the man-carrying chrysanthemum, only to be turned away from the rich district because he was dirty. When he saw a pretty child in fine clothes playing with a toy on a pavement, he wanted the pretty baby to play with him, but was turned away by the owner of the toy. The owner is likened to a monster running down the walk at top speed, his tongue was clanging like a bell and his legs were galloping. He said "Say," he murmured, "le’ me play wif it?" but is tuned down with a very stern "No," the boy was out of luck as the boy in tartars came back with a toy and he took a supreme tug and wrenched the string from the pretty boy’s grip and ran into a swallowing cavern. The ominous baby is similar to “the open boat” because they book talk about sojourners in a foreign land, but their reception is quite different.

Decide if the story focuses on plot, character, setting, or irony. Explain why you think so.

The most outstanding thing about the story is that it focuses on the character. For example, the ominous baby is characterized as poverty ridden but aggressive. The main character a small boy in tatters portrays the theme of class, economic position and greed. The author also juxtaposes the boy in tatter with a pretty boy with beautiful toy. The boy in tatters from a poor district may have succeeded in talking the crimson toy from the boy in fine clothes, but may never succeed in becoming rich. The class struggle is seen as the boy in taters wrestles the toy from the pretty boy’s hands and runs back into his poverty stricken district. These forces of class, realism, and naturalism are clearly portrayed as they are in the modern world (Brown 32)

Pick one significant quotation from the story and explain what you think it means fully. Cite the quotation with the page number.

The quotation, “Well, le’ me play wif it?" said by the wandering baby introduced us to the boys background. For example based on the slang, it is easy to understand the boy’s background. The boy seems to be from a background characterized by low social economic status and probably a ghetto or as shanty. The boy does not seem to have gone to school based on the slang and the way he pronounces words. The pretty boy may have come from rich family where school is important because he is self-conscious with his use of words. From the quote, the boy does not seem to be begging for something he does not own, he is sure that he can own the toy anytime but just asks casually to be allowed to play with the toy.

Finally, write about three different things that are similar about the story you read and the story we read in class by the same author that would help you remember that they are both by the same author.

Common themes

Stephen Crane focuses on common thing is almost all his works. For example, he has not departed from his theme of man vs. nature as well as the theme of survival and solidarity. In his story the open boat, he dwells on his trip on a boat and the day their boat capsizes prompting them to struggle to survive. On the other hand, in the story, the ominous baby, he tends to portray class struggle and survival (Wertheim, &, Sorrentino 87)

Style and genre

Stephen also uses similar style and genre in most o his works. For example, most of his stories are short stories. He has not departed from the use of isolation to portray the role of man in the universe both in isolation and in a society. Most of the characters in his story are either struggling against nature, or social systems (Schaefer 132)

Style and Technique

In all his stories, his main style and technique could be termed as a representative of Naturalism, American realism, or Impressionism. While this was a common style during his era, Stephen used these style and techniques in many books that he became known for the same techniques. Most of his critics referred to him as an impressionist because he uses generic syncretism because he uses the dominant genre to record the emerging phenomena that completely disrupt the preconceived conceptual precondition of the genre.

Works cited

Schaefer, Michael W.. A Reader’s Guide to the Short Stories of Stephen Crane. New York: G.K. Hall & Co. 1996. Print

Wertheim, Stanley and Paul Sorrentino.. The Crane Log: A Documentary Life of Stephen Crane, 1871–1900. New York: G. K. Hall & Co. 1994. Print

Bill Brown. The Material Unconscious: American Amusement, Stephen Crane & the Economies of Play. Harvard University Press, 1996. Print


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