Stephen Crane's "The Open Book": Determinism, Objectivity, and Pessimi

Topics: Ocean, Fiction, Stephen Crane Pages: 2 (656 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Stephen Crane's "The Open Book": Determinism, Objectivity, and Pessimism

In Stephen Crane's short story "The Open Boat", the American literary school of naturalism is used and three of the eight features are most apparent, making this work, in my opinion, a good example of the school of naturalism. These three of the eight features are determinism, objectivity, and pessimism. They show, some more than others, how Stephen Crane viewed the world and the environment around him.

Determinism is of course the most obvious of the three features. Throughout the entire story, the reader gets a sense that the fate of the four main characters, the cook, the oiler, the correspondent, and the captain are totally pre-determined by nature and that they were not their own moral agents. " The little boat, lifted by each towering sea and splashed viciously by the crests, made progress that in the absence of seaweed was not apparent to those in her." The characters had no control over their boat, rather nature was totally in control. "She seemed just a wee thing wallowing, miraculously top up, at the mercy of the five oceans. Occasionally a great spread of water, like white flames, swarmed into her." (pg.145) There is also a sense that man is totally not important to the natural forces controlling his fate. "When it occurs to 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 that there are no bricks and no temples."(pg156) The one character who perishes, the oiler, is of course a victim of determinism. Even as he was so close to land and no longer out in the open sea, nature still takes its role in determining his fate.

Objectivity refers to how the author describes reality as it exists, that is, not glorifying something, but rather simply stating the observation. The fact that the narrator is the correspondent in itself...
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