What is the view of the men in "The Open Boat" by Stephen Crane?

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One of the first things that strikes most readers of "The Open Boat " is the subdued, matter-of-fact tone of the narrative. It is a desperate situation being depicted, and yet Crane's prose is unemotional, as if to convey that what is happening is business as usual in a...

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One of the first things that strikes most readers of "The Open Boat" is the subdued, matter-of-fact tone of the narrative. It is a desperate situation being depicted, and yet Crane's prose is unemotional, as if to convey that what is happening is business as usual in a pitiless universe.

The behavior of the men is a kind of mirror of the external, omniscient storytelling. The men are calm, seemingly accepting the situation, hardly raising their voices, and not displaying obvious fear or agitation. Yet underneath this exterior, they are all contemplating, and questioning, the whole mechanism of life and of the cosmos. "If I am going to die," they inwardly ask, "why was I allowed to come this far and see sand and trees?" The men feel taunted by fate, or by God.

None of them are ready to give up; they all wish desperately to go on living, but the subtext of their thoughts is the recognition that existence is a riddle. They are simultaneously resigned to that riddle and still motivated by the primal urge to continue.

Crane presents, in this story, a microcosm of the world. The men in the boat, being heaved up and down endlessly by the waves, struggle to save themselves, yet are resigned to whatever the outcome may be.

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