In most traditional happy ending stories, there always appears to be evidence of supernaturalism. However, Stephen Crane leaves out all fairy tale elements and mystical creatures in his “The Open Boat”. Throughout the whole story, there are constant examples of the raw, realistic and indifferent parts of life. In Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat” naturalism is apparent through the use of language, literary techniques, and thematic elements.
First of all, Crane’s use of language played a large part in the naturalistic feel of the story. Crane makes sure to use specific phrases and words that describe things exactly the way that they actually appear. He does not ‘butter up’ or ‘candy coat’ their descriptions in order to prevent the reader from associating an emotion with the element. For example, Crane describes the ocean in a very realistic way; it does not make the reader feel anything in particular. “These waves were of the hue of slate, save for the tops, which were foaming white, ... The horizon narrowed and widened, and dipped and rose, and at all times its edge was jagged with waves that seemed thrust up in points like rocks.” Instead of him describing the water as beautiful and calm, he gives the reader a sense of the rational behavior of the ocean.
In addition, motifs, repetition, and dialogue are some of the important literary techniques used that helped to create this naturalistic story. A couple motifs in the story are the relentless waves of the ocean and the taunting shark. The waves are proof of the fact that the ocean is very much indifferent to those who experience it, along with any other part of nature. They are relentless, as they keep smashing into the side of the boat will all the power and strength of the ocean. “The third wave moved forward, huge, furious, implacable. It fairly swallowed the dingey, and almost simultaneously the men tumbled into the sea.”
The shark was also a motif in the story. It served as a reminder for the men on board- that their lives could be taken from them at any moment, and it was a mystery as to when they will die or if they will stay alive. It was the idea that fate was chewing at them at the mercy of the giant powerful ocean. “When it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important, and that she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple, and he hates deeply the fact that there are no bricks and no temples.” Similarly to what Crane said- nature could care less if these men die, and it will not change its course just to fulfill the wants of theses abandoned men. It stops for no one.
The dialogue played out by these men as also an important literary technique. They continue to banter back and forth, displaying hope and loss of hope. There are plenty of examples throughout the story that show the men trying and trying again to regain this hope. They know in the back of their minds that there is a...