Luis Velasco, the story's protagonist, has just been thrown overboard from his navy destroyer. He's now all alone at sea. But it's such a terrible shock to him that he remains in a state of denial over his desperate situation. As he bobs around in the water, Luis sees no evidence of a shipwreck; all appears calm on this clear, beautiful day. This particular scene emphasizes Luis's lack of preparation for survival. He contemplates the natural beauty of the sea and sky as if he were an artist, not a shipwrecked sailor engaged in a desperate struggle for survival. But Luis is still so utterly startled by his plight that he's unable to look at the natural world in any other way. For now, at least, he is at one with nature, not yet in conflict with it.