In Stephen Crane's"The Open Boat" what is the most significant element?I am analyzing all elements of this short story and would like to know which element is the dominant, which affects all other...

In Stephen Crane's"The Open Boat" what is the most significant element?

I am analyzing all elements of this short story and would like to know which element is the dominant, which affects all other elements. 

1 Answer | Add Yours

Top Answer

billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The most important element in "The Open Boat" is man's realization of his insignificance and of the total indifference of nature to his fate. The men in the boat will either die or reach land safely, but there is no help for them outside of their own efforts. Stephen Crane believed that there was no supreme supernatural power looking after mankind, no being for man to pray to for help. The story is powerful just because the reader is made to feel what it is like to be at the mercy of the natural elements and how much one's fate is a matter of chance--what Hemingway, who greatly admired Crane, called "luck." (Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" resembles Cranes "The Open Boat.") Crane's story opens with a memorable sentence: "None of them knew the color of the sky." This suggests that they are frightened and humble, bowed over like prisoners facing execution. By saying that they are afraid to look up at the sky, Crane is implying that they do not expect any help from heaven. If heaven cared anything about their fate, then heaven wouldn't have put them in this terrible situation to begin with. The dominant element is fear.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,925 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question