This essay proposes as a source of Stephen Crane's novella "The Monster" his brother William Crane's attempt to prevent the 1892 lynching of Robert Lewis, a black man accused of rapin a white woman in Port Jervis, New York. William Crane's inquest account of this event shares imagistic and thematic details with his brother Stephen's story, details that suggests a more than coincidental relation between the two narratives. Among their similarities, both stories feature a black man whose face, covered by blood (in the lynching account) and by a "ruby-red" flowing substance (in "The Monster"), is made unrecognizable-a black man, moreover, deemed a "monster" by the community, at the mercy of a white crowd, among whom foremost a judge and a doctor feel a moral compulsion to attempt to save his life. Crane's fictional effacing of the Lewis lynching in "The Monster" may be attributable to his reticence to criticize his hometown openly for such a heinous act and to his own ambivalent racial attitudes-attitudes evident in Crane's alternations between stereotyping and humanizing Henry Johnson, the novella's literal "monster" and central African-American character.
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