What does this quote, from "The Open Boat," mean?"When it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important, and that she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at...

What does this quote, from "The Open Boat," mean?

"When it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important, and that she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple, and he hates deeply the fact that there are no bricks and no temples."

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The following quote appears in Stephen Crane's short story "The Open Boat."

When it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important, and that she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple, and he hates deeply the fact that there are no bricks and no temples.

Stephen Crane was Naturalistic author. That said, there were certain characteristics his writings included. Naturalists believed that nature was the most powerful being on earth. The term "being" is used here because, many times, nature was personified (meaning that nonhuman and nonliving things were given human characteristics and abilities).

This idea is supported in the following excerpt of the passage:

she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him.

Here, "she" is nature and "she" has the power to feel and maim.

Another aspect of Naturalistic literature is the use of common, everyday settings. The story takes place in a dingy on the sea. The men are certainly not near any temples (which would elevate the setting).

Also in the passage, man realizes that nature is far more powerful than "he." Typically, Naturalists allow their characters to come to this realization.

In the end, the passage's importance is to show both the reader and the character that nature is far more powerful than man and the man's recognition of this "fact." Give that this was a fact for the Naturalist, it would only make sense that the author would include the ideology in the text.

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