Realism-Naturalism Essay, Research Paper
Realism-Naturalism Brian Robinson
From the Yukon trail to the ocean realism and naturalism writers, like Stephen Crane and Jack London, explore the many trials of man and nature. Stephen Crane is famous for his story “The Open Boat”. The story involves a crew made up of 3 sailors and is about their struggle to find help during a storm at sea. In Jack London s “To Build a Fire” a man battles against nature to build a fire so he doesn t freeze to death.
The story “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane, starts out with 3 men on a ship, including an oilier, a cook, and the wounded captain. They have been staring at waves that are of a hue of slate, except for the tops that are foaming white. They want to find some land. They are hungry and thirsty, but there is nothing to eat except maybe the fat cook. They can make out a huge shadow in the water circling the boat. They see sharks swimming in the water that are scary but beautiful at the same time. The oilier who has been rowing for while decides he is there only hope of getting to land. So he jumps in to swim to shore. But the irony being that the oilier, most fit to survive, is the one who dies first.
This story clearly displays the naturalism theme by showing there is a sign of hope if they can find a first aid station or a refuge house. Naturalism shows the relationship between individuals and nature, focusing on the importance of characters and their environment. One such naturalistic theme explored in “The Open Boat” is nature’s indifference to their fate. Struggling to beat each wave, making little progress on their voyage towards land, they are at the mercy of the waves.
In Jack London s story “To Build a Fire”, a man is experiencing his first winter in the Yukon. The temperature is a good 75 degrees below zero. A man at Sulfur Creek gives him good advice to never travel alone when it is 50 degrees below zero. The man is traveling with his dog to a claim in Henderson Creek. He accidentally breaks through the ice after traveling a while. He then proceeds to attempt starting a fire. He does get a fire going. He starts to take off his boots and warm his feet when a heap of snow pummels his fire. He had not noticed that he had built his fire under a tree. He quickly tries to light another fire. After a few attempts he fails. Knowing he cannot get the fire going he uses his instincts and tries to use his dogs blood to warm his hands. He cannot do this because his hands are numb. He then starts to run, in an attempt to find more people, but after a while his body collapses and he dies.
This story relates to naturalism because it is a battle between man and nature. There is a sign of hope, because if he could only get that fire started he could save himself. But in the end nature was triumphant in that he is not able to start the fire and ends up freezing to death.
These stories are similar in their exploration of man versus nature in that they are both representing mans survival of improbable circumstances. They still have hope, rather than realism stories with no hope. The differences between them is that in “The Open Boat” they have others to count on rather then in “To Build a Fire” were he has only himself. These stories are great examples of naturalistic writing.