Stephen Crane's Short Story, The Open Boat

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Navigating “The Open Boat”
Stephen Crane’s short story, “The Open Boat,” presents a harrowing account of men navigating a dinghy after a shipwreck, challenging the elements of nature for survival. Crane masterfully depicts this dangerous setting by employing nature as an antagonistic character. He incorporates a mixture of points of view that allows readers to relate to the men’s dilemma. Crane portrays skilled seamen who have a bond as well as a duty to each other. He includes touches of symbolism to foreshadow outcomes and define the power of nature.
The setting of the story occurs in the middle of winter on a small dinghy amid the open ocean near Mosquito Inlet (Crane 178-79). Crane opens the story by immediately submerging the reader between …show more content…

The correspondent locates eight cigars, four of which are dry, and another finds three matches (Crane 183). Muhlestine feels that the cigars are a representation of the men: four wet cigars are the sailors left on the ship, four dry cigars are the inhabitants of the dinghy, and the three matches serve as the three men that will survive (43). One may initially overlook this foreshadowing upon first reading of the story, but after careful analysis it is evident that the missing match will represent the oiler. An additional symbolic piece occurs, as the correspondent is alone in thought, he suddenly remembers a childhood poem about a dying soldier that he had previously found insignificant (Crane 190-91). The soldier and correspondent can be viewed as the similar because of their situations. The correspondent is realizing that he has taken for granted the frailness of human life.
In “The Open Boat,” Crane is able to successfully reveal the struggles one might encounter while maneuvering a small boat in the vast ocean. The reader feels like a companion in the dinghy due to Crane’s detailed description of the ocean setting. His character’s personas feel genuine and he uses symbolism to invoke empathy in the reader. Crane’s work demonstrates that the power of nature can be a force greater than man can subdue or

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