The Monster

Crane, Stephen

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Annotated by:
Willms, Janice
  • Date of entry: Aug-08-2000
  • Last revised: Sep-01-2006


A small-town doctor’s son is saved by a black man from a burning house. In gratitude, the doctor takes it upon himself to salvage the life of the badly burned and disfigured hero. Others warn him that he is doing no service to the patient, but the physician cannot let go of one whom he owes such a profound debt. The town begins to fear the newly created "monster." The burned man’s life becomes a nightmare of rejection; the physician and his family are progressively rejected by the community.


Basis for a discussion of the limits of duty, limits of humanity, in making decisions to treat a severely disabled, non-consenting patient. At what point do the doctor’s and the patient’s needs intersect; at what point do they diverge 180 degrees? Who should make the decision to "allow to die" if the patient does not seem capable of doing so? Interesting to compare this fictive piece with the contemporary true story of Dax Cowart (see annotation of video, Please Let Me Die).


First published: 1899, in The Monster and Other Stories.

Primary Source

Great Short Works of Stephen Crane


Harper & Rowe

Place Published

New York