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Reading selected poems of Stephen Crane brings to light the unique perspectives this young writer had on religion and moral values In a quest to more fully understand Crane and his ideas beginning with a brief biographical sketch is appropriate Born November 1 1871 in Newark New Jersey Stephen Crane was the fourteenth and youngest child of a Methodist minister Young Crane grew up quickly with the advent of several transitions in his life including the loss of his father at age nine and three separate family relocations Absolutely bristling with natural writing talent Crane attempted university life twice once at Lafayette and again at Syracuse only to terminate his studies early on both occasions After this brief academic tenure Crane went to work as a journalist with extremely limited success His acclaimed writing style while hailed as brilliant in later years was not ideal for factual newspaper columns It was during this time of poverty in Cranes life he developed much of his cynicism and artistic wit while living in the slums of New York Eventually Cranes masterpieces Maggie A Girl of the Streets and The Red Badge of Courage gained him enough attention to garner a steady job as a feature war reporter for the New York Tribune Growing up in strict Methodist household Crane was subject to his parents views on religion and faith Even though he had no formal philosophical education it was this mix of uncompromising Christian background along with Cranes experiences of the streets of New York and the war-torn battlefields of Turkey and Mexico that caused him to form his often critical and always cynical attitude towards God and organized religion in general His interesting views on the subject of religion are spattered amongst his various works but perhaps the most vibrant and concise examples of Cranes philosophical existentialism occur in his poetry through various personas The following paragraphs examine three poems in Cranes compilations The Black Rider
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