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Nature's Indifference Essay

1679 words - 7 pages

Nature is its own being. It does not care how it affects people, nor does it care whether its actions are understood by man. Nature does not set out to purposely harm nor help anyone. In other words, it is not cruel or compassionate. It is simply its own indifferent being. Stephen Crane shows this in his short story, “The Open Boat”. Stephen Crane writes this story from a real life experience in which he too was stranded on a dinghy after being shipwrecked. Through this story, his feelings about nature are revealed (Spofford 1). “The Open Boat”, written by Stephen Crane, reveals that nature is indifferent to the struggles of man through the use of imagery, foreshadowing, and narrative method.
“The Open Boat” is a short story about four men’s struggle to survive in a ten foot dinghy after their ship has sunk in the middle of the night. In the dinghy, there is the captain, an oiler, a correspondent, and a cook. Throughout the story, the men are constantly at the mercy of nature. They are continually worrying about the boat capsizing or filling up with water because the surf and the wind are so atrocious. While they are in the boat, the men discuss their feelings toward nature. They tend to express anger because they feel that nature has placed them in this situation. The four men want to survive, but they know they will have to swim towards shore because the surf is preventing them from rowing to shore. One night the captain suggests they save their energy so that they can hopefully make the swim towards shore. The boat then capsizes which at this time they must all try to swim in. Three of the four make it ashore and survive, but the one that doesn’t make it isn’t the injured captain but the oiler.
In “The Open Boat”, Crane uses imagery to paint a clear picture of nature’s violence and indifference. Holt defines imagery as the descriptive words or phrases a writer uses to appeal to the reader’s five senses (R112). In other words, the writer describes what is seen, heard, smelled, felt, and tasted so that the reader can get a better picture of the events. Using imagery, Crane describes the situation which surrounds the men in the boat many times. In the first section of the story, Crane describes the waves as being “most wrongfully and barbarously abrupt and tall” (Crane 133). This description shows nature being very unpleasant. The men feel that nature is truly against them. Although the men can see the shore, the waves neither prevent nor help the men reach the shore. Nature is simply being indifferent to their attempt at reaching land. Crane is so intent in portraying this treacherous situation that he describes these waves three times in the first paragraph and fourteen times in the first section (Szumski 129). Crane uses color to create much of his imagery. The primary color of grey is used to describe the waves, sky, seagulls, and the faces of the men in the boat. The color grey contributes to the image that...

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