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The Open Boat Literary Analysis

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On January 2, 1987, Stephen Crane’s boat Commodore sank twelve miles off the coast of Daytona Beach, Florida. After much chaos and confusion in abandoning ship, much of the people aboard perished in scattered life boats that capsized, but Crane was lucky enough to be on the solely surviving dinghy. Thirty long hours of paddling through stormy seas later, the boat barely arrived ashore. After this traumatic experience, Crane decided to transform this incident into a short story—one that explores both the literal and the metaphorical meaning of the sinking ship. He observed that the lack of choices many working-class citizens of his time had put them in a sinking ship, in which larger environmental forces destined to harm and suppress the individual…show more content…
To suggest that the men must have done something wrong to deserve such an awrathed punishment simply cannot be justified; they evidently exerted an incredible amount of effort under the pressure of merciless weather, never once retreating to laziness. Therefore, Crane implies that one ought not to judge others for the situation they are in, as these people are often under the influence (or even full oppression) of many factors beyond their control, realizing that they are all often stuck in the same boat. In other words, seeking to alleviate their distress proves to be a much more productive response than recklessly placing blame. Of course, this story delivers an explicit example, but in many other situations, one’s lack of control over their circumstances may not strike as obvious, and these individuals end up suffering the most—both from the uncaring environment and from the uncaring people who easily dismiss their situation as “deserved.” Therefore, Crane effectively uses his experience with an unforgiving environment as a humble plea for people to look beyond the surface of another’s suffering and to seek to understand the root causes of
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