The open boat essays

What can Man do when faced with a Universe that has no sympathy for him? How can we survive alone against nature? As the characters in the story come to realize, our only hope is in our sympathy and concern for other human beings. The fact is most fully realized in the character of the correspondent. Crane tells us that he had been taught to be cynical of men, but his shared tragedy with the other three men on the boat forced him to form a comradeship that goes beyond mere associations. As Crane tells us, "there was this comradeship that the correspondent, for instance, who had been taught to be cyni cal of men, knew even at the time was the best experience of his life." A metamorphosis is undergone when he and the other men realize that all they have is each other. The correspondent, recalling a childhood verse, feels sympathy for a dying soldier, one who does not even exist: "The correspondent, plying the oars and dreaming of the slow and slower movements of the lips of the soldier, was moved by a profound and perfectly impersonal comprehension. He was sorry for the soldier of the Legion who lay dying in Algiers." Being in his current situation, the correspondent can finally understand the pathos of the dying soldier. He knows what it is like to be alone in a cruel world, and more importantly, he realizes he doesn't have to be alone. "It was no longer merely a picture of a few throes in the breast of a poet, meanwhile drinking tea and warming his feet at the grate; it was an actuality--stern, mournful, and fine." He now understands what it is to be human: that constant striving in the face of futility, and that need for others that ultimately none of us can deny.

The open boat essays

the open boat essays

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