“The Open Boat,” 1229.
A. The story is based on Crane’s experiences during a shipwreck off the coast of Florida.
B. The story reveals Crane’s characteristic subject matter: the physical, emotional, and intellectual responses of people under extreme pressure.
C. It is naturalistic in its dominant theme of nature’s indifference to humanity’s fate and the consequent need for compassionate collective action.
D. Analysis of the story:
1. Who is the main character and why?
2. What is the setting? Why does Crane use so much detail in describing it?
3. How is the boat the setting?
4. How does the ocean represent a naturalist’s view of nature?
5. What are their feelings and how do they reflect humanity?
6. Compare the men in the boat to the sea birds.
7. What does the lighthouse symbolize in a story that is all symbols and no symbols?
8. How are the boats’ occupants all brothers?
9. What is the importance of the cigars?
10. How do they express their anger (p. 1235) and why?
11. What’s frustrating about seeing the people on shore?
12. What is their relationship during the night?
13. What does the sunrise mean?
14. Why doesn’t Crane send a lifeboat?
15. P. 1242: what nature’s indifference teaches humans.
16. What’s the irony in the oiler’s death?
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