Where is God in Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat?" 

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

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Stephen Crane is a renowned Naturalist writer. As a Naturalist, Crane illuminates the idea that nature is far more powerful than mankind and that man lacks free will based upon the concept that nature will win over man each and every time. Nature, personified, does not care what happens to man--it is indifferent. 

Based upon this, God is not present in Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat." Nature, not God, holds the power over the lives of the men. At the same time, the Christian God is denied figuratively.  

 "If I am going to be drowned -- if I am going to be drowned -- if I am going to be drowned, why, in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea.”

Here, the men declare that they will drown three times. This alludes to Peter's denial of Jesus. The second part of the quote refers to mythology; "the seven mad gods who rule the sea" refers to the mythological gods who ruled the seven largest bodies of water on the earth. Here, the narrator illustrates that even the mythological gods have abandoned them to the power of the water (nature). In this sense, God and the gods have allowed nature to determine the fate of the men. Neither the Christian God or mythological god is present in the text. 

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