Examining Pathos in Steven Crane's 'the Open Boat'

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 84
  • Published : January 17, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
‘Without obviously aiming for pathos, Crane achieves it. The story, like the seamen, betrays ‘no hurried words, no pallor, no plain agitation,’ but achieves a real sense of loss at its conclusion. Explain how Crane does this. It is certain that as the reader, one is left feeling bereft and truly sorrowful at the close of ‘The Open Boat’. However, it is not with emphasising the self-pity of the seamen, or using particularly emotive language, that Crane achieves this, but rather by subtly manipulating the plot structure, carefully and effectively establishing the characters, and selecting a narrative style that is objective and detached. These techniques culminate in a conclusion that is both unexpected in its resolution, and unexpected in its effect on the reader, who is left to dwell on the fate of the seamen long after the final page is turned. One of the most important aspects of The Open Boat which allows it to achieve pathos so successfully is the plot structure. In the beginning of the short story, a grim picture is painted of the circumstances of the seamen. We realise how dangerous their situation is, and thus take the story seriously right from the first paragraph. As the story progresses we almost find ourselves joining them on the boat, growing used to the radical changes of the wind and surf, and becoming tolerant of the endless waves threatening to overcome them. In the first few paragraphs we are given opportunity to connect properly with the seamen, their situation and who they are, before anything significant happens. This is important because we are therefore effectively focused on the seamen, rather than the happenings of the story, from the beginning. In this way we are included in the struggles of the seamen as well as in the raising of their hopes. This first happens when a lighthouse is spotted and a more optimistic outlook is afforded. The prospect of a life-saving station/house of refuge allows us to think the men will be safe after all-...
tracking img