The speaker of the story, who speaks as a first-person narrator, is not named. We may conclude that he has had a good deal of experience with small boats, and with the language of sailors. His concentration shifts in the course of the story. At first, he seems to be aware of all four men on the boat, collectively, and he makes observations that permit us to understand the ideas and responses of the men, who are linked in a virtual “brotherhood” because of their having been stranded on a tiny boat amid the high waves that are menacing their existence (paragraph 9). At about paragraph 49, however, the speaker shifts his concentration primarily to the correspondent, while he describes the other men more dramatically. Might we assume that at this point, Crane is merging the speaker of the story with his own voice, as nearly as we can determine it? Throughout, the speaker introduces some of his own ideas, and also, at times, speaks ironically. This accounts for some of the more humorous expressions in the story. Thus, the speaker comments wryly that the men, while rushing from the sinking ship to save themselves, “had forgotten to eat heartily” and therefore were now being weakened with hunger (paragraph 49). The speaker is in control of the tone of his descriptions, as when he points out that the human back, to a rower, is subject to innumerable and painful kinks and knots (paragraph 82). The speaker is also observant and philosophical, as when he comments that the four men at sea need to turn their heads to contemplate the “lonely and indifferent shore” (paragraph 206). The story’s final sentence, about the fact that the three surviving men can be “interpreters,” is suggestive of a good deal of thought and observation that could lead beyond the content of the story. Though the point of view is third-person limited-omniscient, Crane's merging of his thoughts with the narrator's would not be as effective, not as dramatic, or objective, for it is this...
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