Literary Criticism of "The Open Boat"

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The Open Boat by Stephen Crane is a story describing four men that are trapped together in a small boat or dingy. The men aboard the boat are a captain, a correspondent, an oiler, and a cook. The men were aboard a larger boat that crashed off the coast of Florida and are now searching for the safety of a light house they remember. After making a homemade sail and some brisk paddling they finally get near the coast. They spot some people and begin to signal for help but the people only respond with friendly waves. The tide is much too strong to swim to shore so they paddle back out to sea a ways and wait for it to calm. While waiting they get approached by a shark. The large fish circles in such a way that death searches for the next victim it will claim. The men keep rowing and head toward shore. Upon arriving a reasonable distance from the shore, the captain announces that when the boat is about to sink that they will all jump and swim for shore. The oiler, cook, and correspondent evacuate the boat and swim for the sandy beach. The captain stays close to the boat because his injury inhibits his swimming ability. They are having trouble completely the journey to safety when a naked man comes and helps the correspondent and cook on shore. These two men alongside the captain are warmly welcomed by many. The oiler, however, is only welcomed by a sandy grave. The four men each represent four different members of society. The captain represents the leaders; the cook the followers; the oiler the workers; and the correspondent the observers and thinkers. These men must learn to work together and thrive off of one another’s strengths and make up for the other’s weaknesses. Each of these men are very different but the fury of nature does not discriminate against any man. The narrator of the story is the character of the correspondent. This character is probably a young strong male. We learn this because he is one of only two people out of the four...
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