The first section of this great story of survival set in the ocean presents us with a range of reactions of the members of the crew that try to comprehend and grasp the situation in which they find themselves. The correspondent, we are told, watches the waves "and wondered why he was there." The injured captain has a different reaction:
The injured captain, lying in the boy, was at this time buried in that profound defection and indifference which comes, temporarily at least, to even the bravest and most enduring when, willy-nilly, the firm fails, the army loses, the ship goes down.
The oiler seems focused on trying to get the tub to safety, as he is the only one working with one of the oars, and the cook seems to be dazed by the luck that has saved him, but then also shocked by the threat of the sea. Thus the people in the open boat seem to display a series of different psychological responses to their danger. We see avoidance, denial, mourning, depression, acceptance and shock.