What does the "open boat" symbolize in relation to the major tenets or characteristics of literary naturalism in "The Open Boat"?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Characteristics of Naturalistic literature include the following:

- Humans as subjects

-Determinism of the characters in the text- typically, their determinism plays no part in the outcome

-Objective- given Naturalists looked at their texts from a scientific standpoint

-Pessimism- Many subordinate and secondary characters have already accepted their fate in the world

-Everyday setting- typically set in common places and work places

-Ordinary events- happenings in text are not magnificent by any means- they typically deal with ordinary life happenings

-Ordinary characters- characters are not typical heroes or extraordinary in by any means

- Focus on animal attributes in man and lack of free will

As for the text, "The Open Boat", the boat itself shows how the men are at the mercy of nature. Their boat offers no protection. Secondly, the fact that the men are in the middle of the sea with nothing but nature surrounding them is another attribute of Naturalistic literature. Third, the setting is an everyday setting. There is nothing fanciful or extravagant about the boat that the men are in. Instead, it is a simple craft--a dinghy. Fourth, the characters are typical men. There is nothing spectacular or heroic about them. They are simply men on the water trying to survive. Lastly, the lack of free will exists for the men. They are unable to exert their will of survival only because Nature (personified here to mirror the typical personification seen in Naturalistic literature) remains dominant. They are only allowed to survive because Nature has had its fun with them already.

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The Open Boat

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