One of the most arresting quotes regarding the theme of Humanity versus Nature is the correspondents simple remark, which is important for its very subtlety: "Wish I had known you were awake."
He had been manning the oar at night while others slept. It chanced that Nature happened to present itself anew in the form of a prowling shark. The correspondent was fearful and ill at ease the whole night because of it. When he looked round the open boat, he saw all his comrades asleep from exhaustion. So he faced the dark, shark dominated night alone.
In the morning, he and the captain have this exchange:
"Did you see that shark playing around?"
"Yes, I saw him. He was a big fellow, all right."
"Wish I had known you were awake."
Pertaining to the theme, this remark indicates two important ideas. The first is that when facing Nature's dangerous side, one ultimately always faces it alone--you may have help, but ultimately your random survival or demise is your own. The second is that regardless of the solitary quality of humanity's confrontation with Nature, what is yearned for is companionship and togetherness.
Here are a few quotes that relate to the struggles between man and nature:
"Think we'll make it, Captain?" "If this wind holds and the boat don't swamp, we can't do much else," said the captain. (194)
"Many a man ought to have a bath-tub larger than the boat which here rode upon the sea. These waves were most wrongfully and barbarously abrupt and tall, and each froth-top was a problem in small boat navigation." (189)
"The particular violence of the sea had ceased. The waves came without snaling. The obligatioin of the man at the oars was to keep the boat headed so that the tilt of the rollers would not capsize her, and to preserve her from filling when the crests ruched past. The black waves were silent and hard to be seen in the darkness. Often one was almost upon the boat before the oarsman was aware." (204)
"The correspondent remained in the grip of this stronge new enemy-a current." (213)
Crane, Stephen. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Short Fiction. Bantam Classics: New York, 2006.