Crane’s Open Boat

I had the pleasure of reading Stephen Crane’s short story “The Open Boat” and analyzing the description of the survivors and how nature unpleasantly in this case created a social community between the four men. Naturalists elements come rather easy in this story as it involves four men surviving after the Steamer Commodore sunk. Crane focuses on naturalism through these survivors and how they respond to their situation, each other, and their surrounding environment. For example, when they drift upon natives, Crane attempts paint a vivid picture, not of the natives, but how the survivors depict the natives: their uncertainty and fear. He says, “…they came very close and stared at the men with black bead-like eyes” (Crane 198). The choice of words the author uses to paint these people describes the how the four men felt socially unaccepted, like lost peasants that drifted from the sea. Crane continues using the choice of words, “black eyes” to represent the four men and their social distrust of. I understand this story to be written in omniscient POV, so it si hard for me to understand how they individually feel about natives, the environment and their predicament in the open boat. This is basically Crane’s perception of four men dealing with nature.

Crane also describes the social dynamics of the community the four survivors had. He says, “it would be difficult to describe the subtle brotherhood of men that was here established on the seas” (Crane, 199). He continues by saying, “But it dwelt I the boat, and each man felt it warm him” (Crane 199). It is the devastation in this event that nature brings these men to depend on one another, and naturally they form a community of comfort. because the alternative would work against their survival and be senseless. There are a number of scenes where the description of the men’s faces, bodies, clothes, and action paint a clear picture of their social dynamics and struggle against nature’s elements. It was like watching a movie. “The cook’s arm was around the oiler’s shoulders, and, with their fragmented clothing and haggard faces, they were the babes of the sea” (Crane, 206). Showing how nature’s element’s have ran them ragged, Cane also shows how the group have come together, which otherwise nature may have already defeated the four. This story is a solid example of not simply four men who survived the sinking of he ship or facing the sea and other natural elements, it is about the power of socialism, even in such small and desolate places. This makes me think of Tom Hank’s character and his only companion Mr. Wilson. Still, he created the closest thing to defeat loneliness. The description of the men, their clothes, the people they drifted upon and the geography all works to show the Naturalist elements in Crane’s short story.

Work Cited:

Crane,Stephen. “The Open Boat.” The Art of the Short Story. By Dana Gioia and R. S. Gwynn. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006. 107-21. Print.

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