What is the significance of the first sentence of "The Open Boat": "None of them knew the color of the sky"?

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Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Stephen Crane's short story "The Open Boat" begins in the following way:

None of them knew the color of the sky.

In looking at this line only, without looking at the sentences which follow, one could infer a few different things.

First, one could assume ignorance. This could be identified as being that the speaker is ignorant of what color is or how to identify a color.

Second, one could infer that they were unable to see the sky. They may be sheltered from the sky; although the title would speak against this idea ("open boat" refers to no roof being present). Another reason could be that the boat's inhabitants were not looking at the sky. They may not be concerned with the sky, or their focus may be...

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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ideisha | Student

I believe that it gives us the knowledge that everything is dark and the sky and water are blending together.  They could not tell the sky from the water.  They were in the midst of both.

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geneven | Student

They were so occupied with staying alive and avoiding being swamped that they didn't have time to look up.

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