A plot review of stephen cranes the open boat

The open boat symbolism

While the oiler sleeps and the correspondent rows, a huge shark shows up and swims in circles around the boat. The cook claims there's a life-saving station close by, and when they spot a lighthouse on the horizon, they row in that direction. The four men continue what they have been doing last two days — emptying the boat from water and rowing. He just wishes someone else were awake, for the company. The captain commands them to swim to the shore the moment the boat sinks. When the correspondent was a boy, he felt no compassion for the soldier, but now the correspondent is filled with sympathy. The oiler somehow swims powerfully toward shore, while the captain clings to the half-sunken boat. More people gather — men and women bringing blankets and hot coffee. Rowing through phosphorescence and alongside a monstrous shark, the correspondent thinks of a poem he learned in childhood about a soldier dying in a distant land, never to return home. After a long and dark night, the sun finally rises and a new day arrives. During the night, the men forget about being saved and attend to the business of the boat. They stubbornly think that help is on the way as the shadows lengthen and the sea and sky turn black.

The men jump out into the sea. They argue as to whether the waving man is trying to signal them to go a certain direction—perhaps to where the nearest life-saving station is—but ultimately decide the man is just waving a friendly hello at what he thinks is a group of fishermen.

the open boat quotes

That night, the surviving men hear the sounds of the ocean, and feel like they can serve as interpreters. One cannot imagine that he will resume his indifference to the fate of others.

A plot review of stephen cranes the open boat

The waves near the shore grow too large for the lifeboat to linger safely, so the oiler rows the boat out to sea. As the cook bails out the boat, the injured captain gives orders, and the correspondent and the oiler, named Billie, take turns rowing. As far as climaxes go, this is a pretty sarcastic one. It's like biting into what you think is going to be a delicious piece of fruit, only to realize it's made of plastic. The correspondent even finds four dry cigars in a pocket, which he shares with the others. Rowing through phosphorescence and alongside a monstrous shark, the correspondent thinks of a poem he learned in childhood about a soldier dying in a distant land, never to return home. The indifference of nature to their situation and the feeling that they are just specs in the ocean, unimportant to anyone and to God, grows as they continue to struggle against what seems to be their fate. They row toward shore, and—splash—a wave throws them from the boat. The correspondent finds some miraculously dry cigars in his coat, and they smoke them in celebration.

Before he can reach the dinghy, a wave hurls him to shallower water, where he is saved by a man who has appeared on shore and plunged into the sea to save the crew. As the story opens, four men: a cook, a correspondent, an oiler and a captain, are in a lifeboat in stormy seas.

The open boat analysis

That night, the winds pick up, carrying the sound of the ocean to shore. They feel a strong sense of brotherhood, being together on this boat. The oiler and the correspondent take turns rowing through the night. They argue as to whether the waving man is trying to signal them to go a certain direction—perhaps to where the nearest life-saving station is—but ultimately decide the man is just waving a friendly hello at what he thinks is a group of fishermen. Boy are they disappointed. The indifference of nature to their situation and the feeling that they are just specs in the ocean, unimportant to anyone and to God, grows as they continue to struggle against what seems to be their fate. In the evening, the shore can no longer be seen. Denouement Every Man for Himself! Wild, but instead of a cheerful, handsome guy eating bugs and finding his way out the wilderness way too easily, we're introduced to four guys who are soaking wet and miserable, and find themselves trapped in a pretty hopeless situation. Someone shows up on shore and comes to help them. The oiler is strong and the correspondent is thoughtful, and may or may not also be our narrator. The oiler and the correspondent continue to take turns rowing.

The correspondent remembers a poem he read during his childhood about a dying soldier who, crying out that he would never again see his homeland, tried to keep from bleeding to death by clutching his chest with his left hand.

Perhaps the meaning of this experience is the rare opportunity to see yourself as part of a whole, as one, but as one of many.

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Finally, the correspondent recalls a poem he recited, with complete indifference, in school. There is sorrow, fear, frustration, and desperation.

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The Open Boat: Synopsis