How is the first paragraph of "The Open Boat" important to the story as a whole?
The Open Boat’s first paragraph is relevant to the rest of the story because of its foreboding imagery. In four short sentences, Crane introduces an ominous setting for the story and places uncertainty over his character’s fates.
None of them knew the color of the sky. Their eyes glanced level and were fastened upon the waves that swept towards them.
It is immediately clear that the titular boat’s occupants are in a perilous situation, and they know it. So fixated are they on the waves crashing toward them that they remain oblivious even to the color of the sky.
The horizon narrowed and widened, and dipped, and rose, and at all times its edge was jagged with waves that seemed thrust up in points like rocks.
The boat these sailors find themselves trapped in is rocking so violently up and down that the horizon is constantly coming in and out of focus when it is visible. Adding to the harrowing scene are the threatening waves that remind the boat's occupants of the obstacles all around them. The final quote is how the first paragraph concludes and hints at how the rest of the story will play out.
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