Max L. Autrey (essay date 1974)
SOURCE: “The Word Out of the Sea: A View of Crane's ‘The Open Boat,’” in Arizona Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 2, Summer, 1974, pp. 101-10.
[In the following essay, Autrey contends that the death of Billie in “The Open Boat” demonstrates the futility of man's struggle for independence and freedom.]
Although presented as an anticlimax and beautifully understated, the death of the oiler holds the key to Stephen Crane's study of mankind in “The Open Boat.” As the most significant single occurrence in a work composed primarily of inner action, Billie's drowning gives meaning to the final periodic comment:
When it came night,...
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