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The Open Boat

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The Difference in Characters

"The Open Boat"

"The Open Boat" by Stephen Crane tells the tales of four men, who, in an aftermath of a shipwreck, are stranded on a tiny open dinghy. They are forced to battle and struggle against the crushing forces of nature, all the while suffering immense psychological and physical distress. The captain is injured and the other remaining crew members are struggling to keep the boat afloat. This story depicts the trials and hardships of all the men, and in doing so, reveals the unique personalities and traits of each character. Stephan Crane effectively uses the elements of characterization and shifting points of view in order to solidify the plot structure.

Characterization in this story allows the reader to gain a greater understanding of each character and, in turn, creates the setting in this story. The four men make up the entire cast; there is no protagonist so all the men's personalities make up the action and setting of the story. Although, there is a feeling of a collective experience, Crane's deep descriptions of the men let the reader experience the story from the point of view of each character. The use of the characters' names is not often done, and instead they are referred to as their professions. By doing so, Crane expands the scope of the story in which the reader can more closely identify with the personalities of the four men. The captain is the consummate leader, a man who never shirks from his responsibilities. "The hurt captain, lying against the water-jar in the bow, spoke always in a low voice and calmly...a mere recognition of what was best for the common safety." The strength and endurance comes from the correspondent and the oiler, who never throughout the whole story leads into the hopelessness. The cook maintains a positive, even naïve, outlook on the men's rescue and is the first to bring up the possibilities of some sort of rescue. "There's a house of refuge just north of the Mosquito Inlet



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