The Open Boat Questions and Answers
by Stephen Crane

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What are the impressionistic elements in Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat"?

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Impressionism in literature applies to the use of a few select details as sufficient to convey the sensory impression of an incident or scene.  Much like Impressionistic art, suggestion and atmosphere prevail over detail.  Like the painter, the author describes, rather than interprets the impressions, sensations, and emotions that constitute a character's mental life. In composition, the main object commands the viewer's attention. 

Stephen Crane's story, "The Open Boat," interestingly, is based upon a real incident in Crane's life in which he was a passenger on a ship that sank off the coast of Florida; he and four men were in an open dinghy, struggling on rough sea for thirty hours.  Recording this human struggle in an indifferent universe, Crane utilizes, among others, these impressionistic techniques:

COMPOSITION

Most clearly, the entire focus on the struggle against nature is suggested in the opening line:  "None of them knew the colour of the sky."  Also suggested is the...

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