The Open Boat Questions and Answers
by Stephen Crane

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How does "The Open Boat" depict realistic writing rather than naturalistic?

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While there is a lot of overlap between realism and naturalism, the two are distinct literary movements. Naturalism was born from the realist movement, but it often indulges in the grotesque to a degree realism does not. Naturalism's focus is on how people are shaped and ultimately controlled by their environment rather than their own free will. One of the great naturalistic novels, McTeague, fits these criteria: the characters are rather grotesque, engaging in cruel or animalistic behavior due to their own passions and poverty, and the author, Frank Norris, essentially argues that people cannot overcome how they were raised (in the protagonist of McTeague's case, his father was an abusive drunk, so he too becomes one).

By contrast, realism is less interested in such artistic exaggerations. It strives for what a modern readership might call "documentary style": a presentation of a story world with few embellishments. It does not have the same focus on social Darwinism or determinism that...

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