What are the themes found in Crane's Open Boat?

Essay by giannic32University, Bachelor'sB, November 2002

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In "The Open Boat" Stephen Crane uses repeating themes of character experience, action and imagery to convey feelings of the overbearing vulnerability, and seeming futility, of the successful human race when placed in context and comparison to nature itself. Crane's depiction of four men in a dinghy that "many a man ought to have a bath-tub larger than" guides a reader through alternating themes of hopelessness and hope during a dilemma that lends its support to defining a facet of life. The story is an enchanting jaunt into exploring the establishment of 'Truth' in life. What 'is' and what 'isn't' Crane claims is never discernable by those involved at the time, only after the fact - upon recollection - is one given the luxury of time for interpretation.

The depictions of color play a primary role in the sanity. Crane plays on our sense of color - as if one could ever fully know the color of the 'brick' he likens the clouds as being - to set the stage for stating that all is interpreted by the light objects are seen in, as well as the distance the subject is from the action.

The opening sentence, "None of them knew the color of the sky," initiates the reader into a world of question. When in regard to the storyline the first sentence is quite understandable - the four men had what lie all around them to worry about more than the non-threatening sky. Taken as symbolism for another idea, the line suggests a greater lack of knowledge due to the simplicity of this unknown, normally obvious detail. By suggesting four capable men could not discern the color of the sky Crane immediately throws the reader into uncertainty - he has us looking for facts along with his...