Comparison Of The Four Men In The Open Boat By Stephen Crane

'The Open Boat”, a story by Stephen Crane about survival of four men at sea, The Captain, The Oiler, The Cook, & The Correspondent — rowing a small dinghy boat off the coast of Florida in January following a shipwreck trying their best to survive through an unpredictable type of nature. Billy the oiler is the only one given a name in the story. He is the one who is hardworking, helping everyone to survive and performing multiple duties on the ship. Out of the four men, Billy was believed to be the strongest and he also happens to be the only one who dies. The Captain was considered to be the weakest of them all. He was injured when their ship sank, he is unable to help them physically during the journey to find land. He does help the crew by protecting the clean water the men have and providing directions for the men. This seems to be a difficult job for him, giving his injuries. The Cook was considered to be fat, sloppy, disgusting man. Although he is not fit enough to help with the rowing, he talks way more than any of the men on the boat, but he does have the most faith that they’ll be rescued. He and Billy, the oiler has disputed during the story due to his own selfish needs and how he makes the others on the boat suffer by continuously describing food that they can get to during that time. The men's hope is that they will be able to make it to a life-saving station or house of refuge, Billie diplomatically puts an end to the argument, observing that they're not yet close to it, whatever it is. The Correspondent seems to be the eyes and ears out of the four men, he is considered to be the thinker. He begins to question the purpose of life, and why the men would survive the ship only to suffer at the hand of the sea. These four men had no common bond at all, and all came from a different social classes and problems. The only common thing the men shared was the will to survive at sea.

While on the boat, the four men build a brotherly bond with one another that finally leads them into finding land. A 'subtle brotherhood' is established among the four men, although they don't speak of it to each other. They are now, friends and perhaps something beyond friends. They are bound together more closely than any words could describe. The correspondent is humbled by this feeling and, despite the danger they are in and the burden of his natural cynicism, he finds himself, realizing that if he survives, this would be 'the best experience of his life.” The men are faced with grueling waves by the sea, no food and limited clean water. The men understood that in order for them to have any chance of survival, they need to come together. The first problem is that their ship has sank which has already put them in fight or flight mode. The captain sees a lighthouse far away from a distance, and they try to row their boat in the direction, hoping that they are able to touch land. While struggling to survive at sea, the men form a brotherhood, and often comfort each other. Once they approached land all the men became very disappointed, with the sight of emptiness and lack of human life and resources there. They again began to sail at sea in hopes of survival, by this time the men are exhausted and frustrated. The Correspondent was wondering how he came so far only to die at the hands of the sea. Then the captain woke up the next day to have a plan for the four men to try to run the surf, while they have the energy to do so. The Correspondent winds up getting caught in a current wave, that pushed him back to the boat. Then the wave pushed him to a shallow area where a man on shore saved his life. He, then realized that there were several people on the shore and they have saved the other 2 men with him. He also soon realized that Billie, the Oiler did not survive the ordeal.

The men in this story fought their way through nature to safely return to land. At the end of the story, during the night time the wind brought the great sea’s voice to the men on shore, they felt like they could then be interpreters. Meaning at the end of this long, grueling journey the men felt like they learned a lesson in it all. That if you’re strong or if you’re weak, nature is very unpredictable and you may not know the outcome of the kind of destruction it can cause.

Works Cited

  • Bettina L. Knapp, “Tales of Adventure,” Stephen Crane, Ungar Publishing Company, 1987.
  • Course Hero. 'The Open Boat Study Guide.' Course Hero. 2 Apr. 2018. Web. 20 Mar. 2020. .
  • Crane, Stephen, and Josef Raith. The Open Boat. Hueber, 1971.Crane, Stephen. 1898.
  • Crane, Stephen, “The Open Boat”1871-1900 
  • ENotes Editorial, 28 Dec. 2019, Accessed 19 Mar. 2020.
  • GradeSaver 'The Open Boat Summary'. GradeSaver, 19 March 2020. Web. 19 March 2020
  • SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on The Open Boat.” SparkNotes LLC. 2007. Web. 19 Mar. 2020
  • The Open Boat - Summary' Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition Ed. Charles E. May., Inc. 2004 19 Mar, 2020
  • Weeks, Rachel. 'The Open Boat VII' LitCharts. LLC, 29 Mar 2018. Web. 18 Mar 2020.
16 August 2021
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