’s Success Essay, Research Paper
Stephen Crane’s story, “The Open Boat,” presents four shipwrecked men trying to perpetuate their survival in their fight against the sea. Crane masters depicting pathos in such a way that the story does not overfill the reader with sentimentality. Heroism also shines through the characters, something which gives a greater understanding of their situation. As the reader follows the story along, she gets a sense that she’s in the story, yet, her emotions aren’t forced out of her.
The “waves were of the hue slate,…most wrongfully and barbously abrubt and tall,” in the beginning. By writing long descriptions of waves, Crane sets a scene so believable, the reader feels she’s being bombarded by the sea. Crane also sets the mood by portraying the captain as a fatherly figure. The captain’s optimism is a heroic effort of “soothing his children.” There is a better understanding of the crew as a whole and how they interact. Though the men are “at the mercy of five oceans,” there never could be a “more ready and swiftly obedient crew” for the captain to command.
Towards the middle of the story, the ocean still has the upper hand. The men “now rode this wild colt of a dinghy like circus ment.” Death also comes as a definite option to the men. “‘If we don’t get all ashore,’ said the captain—’if we don’t all get ashore, I suppose you fellows know where to send news of my finish?’” This foreshadowing of death helps the reader anticipate it, something remains which extracts unnecessary sentimentality. At another point, Crane writes, “It is almost certain that if the boat had capsized he (the oiler) would have tumbled comfortably out upon the ocean as if he felt that it was a great soft mattress.” Now death looks appealing, it seems better than living through this horrid situation. The fact that they’re not dead and that they have suffered all this time shows heroism. “If I am going to be drowned, why, in the name of seven mad gods who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees?” The reader understands what the men are put through and can respect and admire the men for their struggle against the ocean.
By the end of the story, Crane puts the reader inside the correspondent’s head. The reader completely understands what he’s thinking and why he’s contemplating those thoughts. When the correspondent goes into the sea, he thinks of the cold water as “sad” and “tragic.” Then Crane writes, “This fact was somehow mixed and confused with his opinion of his own situation, so it seemed almost a proper reason for tears.” Crying either comes or doesn’t; Crane handles tears in such a way that they are not embarrassingly sentimental. Then comes the magnificent amount of heroism. First, there is the naked man, risking his own life for the shipwrecked crew. This man saves the cook and goes towards the captain. Demonstating another act of heroism, the captain waves the nake man towards the correspondent. The last heroic point in the story is the oiler’s death. It seems as if he drowns as a sacrifice to the sea, as if he dies for the rest of the crew. Because there is so much heroism performed in the end of the story, Crane eliminates bathos completely.
Crane creates a heroic and pathetic situation without the overuse of sentimentality. He uses immense descriptions of the sea, and he uses consideration of death to help the reader empathize with the characters. The heroism is shown throughout the entire story, but comes strongest in the end. Unselfishness and courage are presented in the characters and elevate them to greatness. Crane perfects the heroic and pathetic just as the men perfect their interpretations of the sea.