In the first para of section VI it speaks about "mad gods" and "scared cheese" How does this illustrate basic themes and central ideas?These two phrases where repeated through out this short story.

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the basic themes of this and other works by Crane is that the lack of control that man seems to be able to exert over his own life. The men in the small boat have been desperately fighting for their lives during the entire story. They have just made it to a place where they can actually see the shore and, at first, believe people will come to rescue them. But the lighthouse is not stocked has no one there to rescue them. The men then discuss the "seven mad gods" the "scared cheese" because life seems so unfair. They keep asking the question, "Why, if I am going to be drowned have I been allowed to come this far and contemplate the land and trees? They are commenting on the fact that although they have struggled extremely hard to survive, they still seem to have little control over their final destiny. This proves true at the end of the story when Billy, the strongest one who should have survived, dies and the rest of the men are rescued. Life does not seem to be fair at this point.