The Power of Nature Revealed in The Open Boat Essay examples

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The Power of Nature Revealed in The Open Boat

In 1894, Stephen Crane said, "A man said to the universe: 'Sir, I exist!' 'However,' replied the universe, 'The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation.'" This short encounter of man and nature is representative of Crane’s view of nature. However, he did not always see nature as indifferent to man. In 1887, he survived a shipwreck with two other men. "The Open Boat" is his account from an outsider’s point of view of the two days spent in a dinghy. Crane pays special attention to the correspondent, who shares the chore of rowing with the oiler. While rowing, he contemplates his situation and the part that nature plays in it. Mainly through the correspondent’s reflection,
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In addition, the correspondent feels that nature is unjust. Three times during the story, he wonders, "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?" (251). Through the repetition of this phrase, the reader finds that the correspondent struggles to find sense in the acts of nature.

As the men’s time in the dinghy continues, the correspondent begins to develop a deeper understanding of the world around him. Crane demonstrates this through symbolism. The correspondent is frustrated when he realizes that "nature does not regard him as important, and that she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him" (256). As he looks up into the sky, he sees a lone star in the cold night air, which represents the permanence of nature. Despite the activities of humans, the star—or nature itself—will remain unchanged. The correspondent also compares nature to the wind-tower on the shore. It is "a giant, standing with its back to the plight of the ants" and it represents "the serenity of nature amid the struggles of the individual" (258). Even the shore, which was at one time the men’s salvation, seems foreboding and unappealing as they approach it. The star, the wind-tower, and the shore exemplify the indifference of nature to men. At this point, the correspondent

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