Story: “The Open Boat,” 1897Author: Stephen Crane (1871-1900)Central Character: There is no real central character in this story.
All the men on the boat are spoken about more or less equally and no prominent character jumps out at the reader as being the central character. Although more emphasis is put onto the correspondent, and Billie the oiler.Other Character: The cook: bails water from boat. Billie the oiler: steers and rows boat, is the only of the men that does not make it alive to land. The correspondent: Also helps steer and row boat.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
Injured captain: gives commands to the crew as he lies against the water-jar speaking with a low and calm voice.Unnamed people on land: Coat swinger, naked man, etc.Setting: A 10 foot dinghy floats upon a rowdy ocean near the coast of Florida in January in the late 1800’s. It seems that everything on the sea is grey weighing heavily on the feeling of the men. There is a tired and frustrated feelings among the men as they want to leave the boat and return to land, although, Billie and the cook provide some humor when referring to the blasted oars and to pie.
Narrator: The author, 3rd person, omniscient point of view.Events in summary: (1) Four men have survived from a sunken steamer and are stuck in a 10 ft steamer out at sea some where near the coast of Florida.(2)The Injured captain lay over the water-jar giving orders to the correspondent and Billie the oiler letting them know how to steer and row the boat. The crew makes its way to Mosquito Inlet light where they believe that there will be a house of refuge.
(3) Seagulls taunt the crew, one in particular trying to land on the captain’s head. This kills the crew’s optimism about the wind blowing ashore. The oiler and the correspondent continue to row switching off when the other is tired. (4) The captain then spots a lighthouse on the horizon, like a small dot. The captain decides to use his jacket and an oar to make a sail to let the men rest. No one spots the boat and they find it curious, assuming that no one must be looking out the window out to the sea. They deicide to got back to sea to avoid the risky surf.
(5) The wind dies down and the men spot some more people on the shore. There is a van or a boat of some sort, and a man that is swinging his coat. They don’t actually try to help the crew they just wave and watch from afar.
The crew is discouraged yet again, and head out into the water. (6) The crew dozes off except for the correspondent who is bugged by a shark in the night. After swearing into the sea the correspondent remembers a rhyme from his childhood that he once did not care about but now does. The captain awakes and the oiler and the correspondent switch spots. (7) The crew notices a village on the shore with a windmill. The men prepare to jump from the ship and swim ashore. The captain holds onto the boat afraid he will drown. A man appears on the beach naked and helps the men onto the shore.
Everyone makes it except for Billie the oiler who is found face down in the sand dead.Tone: Crane has the ability to create multiple tones all in one passage. The tone seems to be a tad dreary and tragic do to the fact that at any moment the men could all be drowned.
Although, when there is dialogue there is more of a straight forward and comic tone that demonstrates the increasing friendship that is apparent to the reader, although the men refuse to mention it. This tone is important because, Crane makes his characters out to be helpless against the element of nature and it’s over bearing on them. Thus, this bond between the men is the only thing they have to overcome the environment.
Style: One thing that Crane has been known for is his use of imagery and similes in his writing. His use of Imagery and detail bring a repeating setting like the ocean, more to life. The reader is able to form a vivid picture in their mind with the Crane’s use of adjectives and colors.
This style contrast with that of when the characters are speaking.When dialogue occurs, the text seems very simple and rudimentary where as when no dialogue is used the text is far more detailed and alive. Crane’s use of similes makes it so one can possibly relate or have a better understanding of what is occurring. For example how he describes riding in the dinghy like riding a bucking bronco. Irony: The ironic ideas in this story are those of perhaps after all the work the men have gone through that they would be allowed to drown before they were able to set foot on land again.
Crane constantly pushes us toward accepting the bleak proposition that life is a brutal struggle for survival in which there are no certainties of success. This is demonstrated through the quotation: If I am going to be drowned-if I am going to be drowned-if I am going to.