Survival In Stephen Crane's The Open Boat

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From the survival TV shows we watch with people doing just about anything to live, to the survival games kids play like Minecraft, everyone is fascinated with survival. However, no one acknowledges what surviving as a person in this massive universe really mean. Stephen Crane’s, “The Open Boat”, address this theme. Four men find themselves cramped in a dinghy after surviving a shipwreck, and spend days looking for signs of humanity. Along, the way they bond and learn different things about nature and life. In this story, the author uses symbolism to convey the significance of the themes of life, which are survival, death, and relationships. He utilizes the wind tower to show the indifference of nature, the oiler’s death to show life’s uncontrollability,…show more content…
Throughout the story, the oiler was one of the most industrious characters and most optimistic about life. This is evident when the author writes, “The oiler plied the oars until his head drooped forward and the overpowering sleep blinded him; and he rowed yet afterward” (116). The poor oiler who has been rowing all night is so exhausted that he falls asleep, yet somehow, he still manages to keep on rowing. This sets the oiler apart in the story as none of the other characters works as hard as he does. The oiler is also the only character who never says, “’If I am going to be drowned—if I am going to be drowned—If I am going to be drowned, why, in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees? “(115). This shows that the oiler has faith and is optimistic about many things, especially when things are at their worst, while his companions are not. Sadly, even though the oiler seems like an amazing person who deserved to live, he sadly dies. In the end of the story the author creates the picturesque scene where people are coming to save the survivors with open arms and coffee pots, only to remind the reader that oiler’s lifeless body is being dragged away. Leaving the reader with a sense of being sadness, the author uses the oiler’s death to show that sometimes it doesn’t matter what a person does, or who they…show more content…
As the author describes them as feeling hopeless and abandoned, they soon find comfort and hope in each other by smoking these cigars. The men have found comradery. This establishes the first major bond in the story between the all the characters. Almost immediately, the morale of the men increases, and they realize that they will always have each other. Already comradery is bestowing the benefits of hope, companionship and pleasure. These characters feel as if they can take on all seven oceans as long as they have each other. Through this theme of comradery, the author shows the need people have for comradery and how the benefit of hope and security come along with it. Most people often wonder what the point of life was all about. While, philosophers have been trying to answer that question for years, Crane shows us the real reality of life and what is important. Crane uses symbolism to portray that nature is indifferent to people and society, that life is uncontrollable, and how we all need comraderie in order to surive. So the next time you watch a TV show about people living off the raw materials of earth trying to survive or playing a survival game, think about if you are not just surviving, but are you thriving in life as
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