The Correspondent as Spokesperson and Mediator in Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat"

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The Correspondent: the Spokesperson and the Mediator

in Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat”

Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat” has long been acclaimed as a fascinating exemplar of Naturalism, generating many studies that range from the indifference of Nature to the “psychological growth of the men through the experience” (466). The psychological growth happens to every man on the boat, yet is mostly depicted through the voice of the Correspondent and in the form of his questioning and contemplating their desperate situation. Being a correspondent, who is innately able as well as inclined to interpret and communicate ideas, the Correspondent is singled out to articulate the mind of his three
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So while the Correspondent, after the hope of the life- saving station crashes, realizes the indifference and unconcern of the universe, the captain likewise makes the command to jump clear of the boat and “the other silently acquiesced”(483). Even the Oiler, portrayed so far as the most skilled rower and the one most assured of himself, discards the false expectations and meaningless guesses, for he has also gone through the journey and come to the place where he, like the others, understands that no power but himself and his fellowmen can save themselves. The four boatmen, vocal or not, dead or alive, “could then be the interpreters” (487) of the sea- the Nature- in the end.

As the mediator of the inside and outside worlds, the Correspondent also assumes an interlocutor by taking on a dialogue with something invisible and perhaps beyond, be it Nature or Fate. The dialogue is one- sided, for the “invisible” never responds: “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, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees?”(477) In this half- question and half- assertion, all “I” can be replaced by “we”, referring to the four men, because the danger and
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