The Open Boat Questions and Answers
by Stephen Crane

The Open Boat book cover
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How does the use of color imagery in "The Open Boat" enhance the reader's understanding of the story itself?

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Perhaps the lack of color is more significant than color itself in this Naturalistic story of Crane's.  For, the first line of "The Open Boat" suggests the uninvolvement of Nature in the lives of the characters of this story:  "None of them knew the colour of the sky."  The " grim water" on which their eyes are fixed is "slate" and "white."

That Nature is indifferent to the men is evidenced in Crane's line," In the wan light the faces of the men must have been grey."  Even when Nature does display vibrant color, the men are too concerned with their efforts to save themselves, an effort in which Nature is uninvolved:

The sun swung steadily up the sky, and they knew it was broad day because the colour of the sea changed from slate to emeral green streaked with amber lights, and the foam was like tumbling snow.  The process of the braking day was unknown to them.  They were aware only of this effect upon the colour of the waves that rolled toward them.

And, in the midst of this...

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