• Madison White

A Story a Day #11: Stephen Crane

February 16th, 2020

"The Open Boat"

Stephen Crane

A few men are trapped in a small boat after their original boat capsizes. They try and fail to sail ashore and contemplate the reality of drowning. They make a final attempt to row their boat to shore where one believes there is a lifesaving station, though another disagrees. In their push towards the end, they are forced to jump into the icy cold water. Two of them are saved by a man while one dies.

In the spirit of honesty, I will admit that this is likely my least favorite story of the project so far. It exists exclusively at sea in a survival narrative which I don't usually find particularly interesting or relatable. The action felt very long and I kept waiting for something to really happen rather besides, well, floating. I didn't know if I was supposed to be entralled or humored at time by the crazy misfortunate of the characters. In fact, I even looked up the story on Spark Notes because I wasn't sure if I had missed some sort of plot line or metaphor.

The most common interpretations of this story are the anti-Romance aspect of the story in that man battles against nature rather than works alongside it. I did find this aspect interesting because I frequently study and teach the many ways nature is portrayed within literature, though usually in a Midwestern context. I think there are benefits to studying both romantic and realistic interpretations of nature. It is important to emphasize the harmony and benefit that can come from a positive nature/human relationship, but not to be so ignorant to think that we are better than or can outsmart nature.

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