Man and the Vain Struggle Against Nature & Himself: Determinism in Stephen Crane’s The Open Boat

Man and the Vain Struggle Against Nature & Himself: Determinism in Stephen Crane’s The Open Boat

Length: 1805 words (5.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Term Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview

Stephen Crane’s short story, “The Open Boat,” conveys the experiences of four men who survive a shipwreck and find themselves set afloat on a life boat in the middle of the ocean. On the surface, the story paints a picture of the perils of being lost at sea and of the way that four men can come together in a time of distress and count on one another for strength and companionship. However, the story also discusses the theme of determinism, or the ideas that there are forces acting upon an individual, that these forces are beyond the control of the individual, and that these forces impact and shape the lives of those on whom they are exerted. Throughout the progression of the story these four men must come to terms with their own mortality and, more importantly, their own insignificance. Crane uses nature in many forms to reflect the concept of determinism; he presents nature in the form of the sea and the weather, and he also presents nature in the form of the tired and hungry bodies of men. The four survivors on this small boat struggle against these forces acting upon them as they fight for survival. In “The Open Boat” Crane pits man against nature, but it is a fight in which at least one of the competitors, nature, is not actively participating, and by showing this, Crane is able to demonstrate shifting perceptions as the men on the boat process their predicament and eventually come to the sad realization that there is no one to fight or to blame and that nature, in all its manifestations, displays no concern about whether they live or die.
Primarily, these men must face the obstacle of merely being mortals with a need for the crucial basics of human survival such as food, water, and rest. In order to cope with other p...


... middle of paper ...


...ry little separates these men from imminent death and that what does stand between them exists and acts outside of their realm of influence. It is not their strength, hard work, or perseverance that will challenge nature and allow them to live. If anything, it is the strength of the man-made boat that must hold up against the forces beating against them. Their fate lies in the figurative hands of nature and of men, and everything that they do in the lifeboat will bring them closer to either life or death. But they have no way to tell which decisions will lead them where, so they must rely on the deterministic factors of life to lead them to safety rather than to their demise, but first they must lose their senses of self-importance and come to terms with the fact that their survival is not regarded in anyway by nature and the other forces working in their lives.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Stephen Crane's The Open Boat and Jack London's To Build A Fire Essay

- Stephen Crane's The Open Boat and Jack London's To Build A Fire Stephen Crane’s short story, “The Open Boat” speaks directly to Jack London’s own story, “To Build A Fire” in their applications of naturalism and views on humanity. Both writers are pessimistic in their views of humanity and are acutely aware of the natural world. The representations of their characters show humans who believe that they are strong and can ably survive, but these characters many times overestimate themselves which can lead to an understanding of their own mortality as they face down death....   [tags: Literacy Analysis ]

Term Papers
2312 words (6.6 pages)

Analysis Of Stephen Crane 's ' The Open Boat ' Essay

- Analysis of “The Open Boat” In 1897 acclaimed writer Stephen Crane boarded a freighter commissioned to smuggle weapons and munitions to Cuba; he was to document the journey, but quickly after departure, the freighter sank. The literary classic "The Open Boat", which Crane penned after surviving this disaster, had nothing to do with the intended purpose of the voyage, but instead focused on the will of man versus nature and is the greatest short story of Naturalistic literature. Protagonists carry a great significance in Naturalism( )....   [tags: The Open Boat, Stephen Crane, Nature]

Term Papers
805 words (2.3 pages)

Essay on The Open Boat By Stephen Crane

- American author, Stephen Crane often wrote about different predicaments that his fellow men encounters. “The Open Boat” is a fictional account of his experience as a correspondent shipwrecked while on expedition to the Cuban revolutionaries in 1897 (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/stephen-crane) where he spent over 30 hours on a life boat with three other passengers. This realistic story depicts how four men are forced onto a 10 foot dingy after their ship sinks. Crane takes a realist approach when describing the natural elements such as unsettling winds and the raging seas which represent the uncaring and unforgiving nature of life....   [tags: The Open Boat, Stephen Crane, Nature, Man]

Term Papers
701 words (2 pages)

The Open Boat By Stephen Crane Essay

- No Bricks and No Temples: Coping with Crisis in “The Open Boat” Stephen Crane’s story “The Open Boat” concerns four people who are trying to reach land after surviving a shipwreck off of the Florida coast. During the course of the story, they face dangers that are real physical threats, but they also have to deal with trying to make sense of their situation. The characters in this story cope with their struggles in two ways: individually, they each imagine that Nature, or Fate, or God, is behind their experiences, which allows them to blame some outside force for their struggle, and together, they form a bond of friendship that helps them keep their spirits up....   [tags: The Open Boat, Stephen Crane, Man]

Term Papers
1578 words (4.5 pages)

Essay on The Open Boat By Stephen Crane

- “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane There are many inspiring literary works from the short stories, plays and poems but there is one in particular that will have a lasting and profound effect on my perspective concerning the strength and determination of mankind, “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane. Crane presents the epic battle of man against nature with such vivid imagery that it ignites the imagination. It is an attribute of mankind to seek supremacy against each other, fate and nature itself, as can be seen in this short story....   [tags: The Open Boat, Stephen Crane, Man, Perception]

Term Papers
724 words (2.1 pages)

Essay about Des Esseintes' Infatuation with Artifice in Huysmans' Against Nature

- Des Esseintes' Infatuation with Artifice in Huysmans' Against Nature   In J.-K Huysmans Against Nature, Des Esseintes rebels against his family, religion, and Parisian society to establish an identity unique to himself. He perceives this rejection of the truistic self as the development of individuality when, in actuality, it is only a self deriving from his reaction to the overstimulated public. By decorating his abode with eccentric objects, he falsely believes that he can detach himself from the common populace....   [tags: Huysmans Against Nature Essays]

Term Papers
1863 words (5.3 pages)

Stephen Crane's The Open Boat Essay

- Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat"        “None of them knew the color of the sky.” This first sentence in Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat” implies the overall relationship between the individual and nature. This sentence also implies the limitations of anyone’s perspective. The men in the boat concentrate so much on the danger they are in, that they are oblivious and unaware to everything else; in other words, maybe lacking experience. “The Open Boat” begins with a description of four men aboard a small boat on a rough sea....   [tags: Open Boat Stephen Crane Essays]

Term Papers
776 words (2.2 pages)

Stephen Crane's The Open Boat Essay

- Stephen Crane's The Open Boat Humanity often tends to see itself as being somehow important in the grand scheme of the Universe. We speak of 'fate' as if we were put here for some reason, or purpose. We have our religions, which often serve as an engine to drive our lives and as a means to give meaning to them. But why do we think of ourselves in such a superior fashion. Do we really matter at all. Would the Universe stop if we were suddenly taken away. In his short story, 'The Open Boat,' Stephen Crane shows us a Universe totally unconcerned with the affairs of humankind; it is an indifferent Universe in which Man has to struggle to survive....   [tags: Stephen Crane Open Boat Essays Papers]

Term Papers
1032 words (2.9 pages)

Analysis of The Open Boat by Stephen Crane Essay

- Analysis of The Open Boat by Stephen Crane Story: “The Open Boat,” 1897 Author: 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....   [tags: The Open Boat Stephen Crane Essays]

Term Papers
1402 words (4 pages)

Essay on Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage

- Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage War forces young soldiers to grow up quickly. In Stephen Crane’s Civil War novel, The Red Badge of Courage, Henry Fleming is no exception. He is faced with the hard reality of war and this forces him to readjust his romantic beliefs about war. Through the novel, the reader can trace the growth and development of Henry through these four stages: (1) romanticizing war and the heroic role each soldier plays, (2) facing the realities of war, (3) lying to himself to maintain his self-importance, and (4) realistic awareness of his abilities and place in life....   [tags: Stephen Crane Red Badge Courage Essays]

Term Papers
1606 words (4.6 pages)