The Open Boat


The Open Boat by Stephen Crane is a short story about four men who are stranded in a boat during a vicious storm. It explores the relationship between nature and men. The men are alienated from the universe and the waves, because it seems to them that it isn’t fair that they have worked so hard and gotten so far just to die in the waves. As they harry off the shore, the main character is drawn to the humongous windmill in the center of a small town. It represents to him the solidarity and uncaring of nature among the feeble attempts to survive by men. He reflects on the nature of the universe, death, and companionship.

I really enjoyed this story, I liked it more than To Build a Fire by Jack London.

2 thoughts on “The Open Boat

  1. Thoughtful short analysis. I’m glad you mentioned the ways in which Crane’s characters lament how “unfair” Nature can be. That’s clearly a theme that interested him. The point, of course, is that Nature doesn’t give a hoot about “the feeble attempts” of man — an idea that also plays out in “To Build a Fire.” To put a finer point on it: LIFE AIN’T FAIR. (It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.) P.S. I borrowed that last idea from The Princess Bride (great book, good movie).

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