Open Boat Naturalism

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Stephen Crane’s, “The Open Boat”, exemplifies many characteristics of naturalism, a literary movement in the late 19th century into the early 20th century, that was an outgrowth of realism and was heavily influenced by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution which “held that a human being belongs entirely in the order of nature and does not have a soul or any other mode of participation in a religious or spiritual world beyond nature and therefore is merely a higher-order animal whose character and fortunes are determined by two kinds of forces, heredity and environment”(Abrams 152). The first line in “The Open Boat” already depicts man’s lower animal like instinct to survive as Crane describes the men as “none of them knew the color of the sky. Their eyes glanced level and where fastened upon the waves that swept toward them…and all of the men knew the colors of the sea”(Charters 271). Right away Crane brings the attention of the reader down to earth and to man’s basic animal nature and concentration on survival. Even though man who is considered a “higher order of animals” has no time for leisure and contemplation when placed in the cruel indifferent environment of nature. Crane also clearly touches on man’s place in the order of nature as he describes, “when it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important, and that she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple, and he hates deeply the fact that there are no bricks and no temples”(Charters 282). Additionally, the role of chance, in Darwin’s theory, also plays a large role in shaping individuals destiny and from this naturalism focuses on the reality that man’s fate is determined by facets other then man’s free will. In “The Open Boat” although the four men put all of their strength and will power into surviving and rowing the boat they repeat over and over, “If I am going to be drowned-if I am going to be drowned-if I am...
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