In Stephen Crane's story "The Open Boat," four men have been shipwrecked and are now stranded at sea in a boat not much larger than a bathtub. There is the ship's cook, who squats at the bottom of the boat. There is the ship's oiler, Billie, who is one of the rowers. There is a correspondent, a journalist, who also rows in his turn. Finally, there is the ship's captain, who has been injured.
Together, these four men brave the dangers of the open water, sharing their fears and hopes as they struggle to come close enough to shore to find help. The oiler and the correspondent take turns at rowing. The captain directs. The cook watches. The long night and day pass by, but no help comes.
The captain decides that they should move toward shore, and the oiler tries to push his way through the surf, but the boat is nearly swamped, and he goes back out to sea. Even though someone on shore has seen their little vessel, still no help arrives. The captain decides that they must try one more time to make it to shore before they have no more strength left to do so. The boat overturns during this attempt, and the men swim frantically. The captain, the cook, and the correspondent make it to shore alive, but the oiler dies in his attempt.