Stephen Crane's The Open Boat

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Stephen Crane’s story, “The Open Boat”, retells a tragic event that actually occurred in his life. This story is told from a third person point-of-view. He chooses to let a narrator reveal the character’s emotions and inner thoughts. From this perspective, the reader can fully experience what happened during their struggle to survive. Crane wants the reader to connect with each individual character and feel their independent struggle as they work together to reach the shore alive. The narrator helps the reader to feel the despair of the freezing, drowning men and the pain of losing one of the “Brotherhood”. The narrator honors the bravery of each of the men on the dinghy, by allowing the reader to peer not only into the narrator’s mind, but the other men as well.
The author’s choice of point of view is relevant in that the setting of the story takes place on a lifeboat that was around ten feet long. The lack of room and how close the space was is directly related to the affinity of the sailors and the input of the narrator. The four men that were stranded in the water, on the lifeboat are: the ¬cook, the captain, the correspondent, and Billie. It is interesting that Billie, the oiler, is the only man in the story that has a name. The narrator has in depth knowledge about all of the crewmembers on board the dinghy. Crane allows the reader to have insight, through the narrator, on the morale of the brotherhood as well as each individual’s thoughts. The men on the lifeboat were not only concerned with saving themselves; they all cared for the safety of each other. The crew’s focus on survival was so intense that they hardly noticed anything, because they were so intent on survival “none of them knew the color of the sky…. but they...

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...ure by saying, “Any visible expression of nature would surely be pelleted with his jeers” (213).
By starting the story from the group’s perspective first and than transitioning into a singular, more detailed perspective, the narrator includes himself in the brotherhood. Allowing the reader to know their most intimate thoughts, he partakes of their fear and anxiety. He says, “no one said that it was so. No one mentioned it. But it dwelt in the boat, and each man felt it warm him” (205). Being involved in a trauma shared with other people, struggling almost hopelessly to survive and experiencing the death of Billie extends an invitation to the reader into the unspoken brotherhood.
Works Cited
Crane, Stephen. "The Open Boat." Kennedy, X. J. and Dana Gioia. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. 12th. Boston: Pearson, 2013. 202-217. Print.
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