Examine paragraphs 3–6 of "The Open Boat," and then differentiate the four men as fully as you can.

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Stephen Crane uses the physical actions of the characters rather than physical appearance or emotional descriptors to give the reader a first impression of these characters.

The cook's first appearance suggests a man trying to distract himself from the gravity of the situation through work. He is trying to empty the boat of water while making light comments about how rough the waves are while looking over the edge of the boat at the sea. While Crane never uses adjectives such as nervous or afraid, that is the impression the cook gives.

The oiler is rowing the boat and often tries to avoid getting wet when water seeps into the vessel. His actions also suggest nerves and uneasiness.

The correspondent seems to be involved in less physical activity than the other two men. While he is described as pulling at an oar, his gazing at the sea while wondering why he is in this situation suggests a man distracted and trying to dissociate from his reality.

The captain is the most dejected of the lot....

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