How does the author describe the night in Three Men in a Boat?

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chsmith1957 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At first, it seems not to go well, because George and Harris have a great deal of trouble putting up the canvas and hoops tent over the boat. After everyone eats a good meal and drinks good tea, they all grow calm and satisfied. They light their pipes and talk quietly before going to bed. J. has an uncomfortable night, and he wakes up and steps outside the boat. He is overwhelmed by the stars and the beauty of the night. He reveals what he sees in four paragraphs of poetic prose, sprinkled with metaphors. Here’s the second paragraph and part of the third, as an example.

They awe us, these strange stars, so cold, so clear. We are as children whose small feet have strayed into some dim-lit temple of the god they have been taught to worship but know not; and, standing where the echoing dome spans the long vista of the shadowy light, glance up, half hoping, half afraid to see some awful vision hovering there.

And yet it seems so full of comfort and of strength, the night. In its great presence, our small sorrows creep away, ashamed.

J.’s description is something we can relate to, if we have ever been out and about in the middle of the night, surrounded by stars.

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