Meaning Of Life In Stephen Crane's The Open Boat

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Madeleyn Valenzuela Professor Pritchett English 181 Since the beginning of time Philosophers have been contemplating “the meaning of life” and human kind’s purpose on this earth. Stephen Crane’s short story, “The Open Boat” proposes the “unconcern of the universe” (597) for human life. It also shows the immense fear that humans experience when finding out that the world is indifferent to our personal lives. The story focuses on the struggle for survival of four men stranded at sea. Throughout the story, the mens’ perception of fate and nature changes significantly. Crane shows this with the motifs of the waves, drowning, and the death of the oiler. With this, the reader recognizes the immense power that nature has and the insignificance…show more content…
As the captain, the cook, the oiler, and the correspondent are stranded at sea they face harsh winds and strong waves. “A singular disadvantage of the sea lies in the fact that after successfully surmounting one wave you discover that there is another behind it just as important and just as nervously anxious to do something effective in the way of swamping boats” (585). The waves are also a greater symbol for the uncontrollable obstacles that human beings face in their lifetime. This is because humans are ineffective when it comes to the forces of nature. At this point the men understand that there is nothing they can do but keep rowing the boat and avoid…show more content…
Throughout the story the correspondent considers his death and the possibility of it. Out of the four men only the oiler dies. “In the shallows, face downward, lay the oiler. His forehead touched sand that was periodically, between each wave, clear of the sea” (600). The oiler only gets two lines that state his death without further explanation. The reader does not understand what happened to the oiler and why he was the only one that didn’t make it. This is Crane expressing the reality of death and how it can affect anyone and does not have to give any explanations. This again, shows how human beings are powerless to the forces of

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