Stephen Crane's short story "The Open Boat" is a good example of a story using a classical definition of literary naturalism. Naturalism by definition is a theory in literature which emphasizes the role of environment upon human characters. It is an extreme form of realism which arose in the early 20th century. Rather than focusing on the internal qualities of their characters, authors also called out the effects of heredity of the environment on humanity. Crane's uses realism and naturalism to set the tone of the story, then Crane shows that it seems there is no order in the universe.
Realism in, "The Open Boat," is essential to drive the story forward, the location of the story allows the realism, and naturalism to set in. The location in the story is significant because the group of four guys were thrusted into the ocean, and this is natures ultimate playground. If the men were going through a problem within a metropolis area, realism nor naturalism could never be achieved. Each and everyone of them has a general idea as to where their location. The fact that they are close enough to land to see the lighthouse but not able to make it to land was terribly frustrating yet a real problem coming directly from the correspondent himself. realism and Naturalism is an important aspect in, "The Open Boat," but Crane uses naturalism to show that man is not the center of the universe as we all think we are.
Crane shows how it seems that man has no purpose in nature when he writes, "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." It seems that most all mankind views themselves as somehow special or privy to some dark and wondrous secret hidden from the rest of the peopled world. Yet as expressed in this quote, there comes a time when a person is...
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