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"The Open Boat" By Stephen Crane

557 words - 3 pages

In his short story, "The Open Boat," Stephen Crane shows us a universe totally unconcerned with the affairs of human kind; an indifferent world in which Man has to struggle to survive. The characters in the story come face to face with this indifference and are nearly overcome by Nature's lack of concern, yet they succeed through persistence and cooperation. Crane thus asserts that all we have in our constant struggle for survival is stubborn pride and companionship.The story portrays four men, known simply as the captain, the oiler, the correspondent, and the cook, stranded in the ocean in a small boat. Crane's descriptions in the opening scenes already show the ...view middle of the document...

They even deem the universe hostile, and perceive normal natural phenomena as acts of aggression against them.Although the characters float adrift in an uncaring sea, at this point they still seem to think their destinies are controlled by some outer force. However it soon dawns on them that there is no "fate," no purpose for their being where they are. It is the realization of this fact that brings them to the brink of despair. Crane's journalistic prose shows the futility and hopelessness the characters feel in the face of indifference.What can Man do when faced with a Universe that has no sympathy for him? How can we survive alone against Nature? As the four men realize, our only hope is in our concern for other human beings. This is most fully realized in the character of the correspondent, a man taught to be cynical of his kind who is dramatically changed by the tragedy shared with the other three fellows on the boat. The correspondent undergoes a metamorphosis when he realizes that all we have in a cruel world is each other. He comes to understand what it is to be human: that constant striving in the face of futility, and that undeniable need for others. Ultimately a comradeship is born between the characters that goes beyond mere associations and keeps them afloat."The Open Boat" gives us a dose of reality that seems bitter at first, but gradually brings the characters together and reflects the essence of the human spirit. In the end, the assertion that the Universe will never bend to the will of Man is outweighed by Crane's reassurance that we will always have each other.

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