The Open Boat

0 Oiler- young, virile man who is the only one given a name (Billy).
Shown to be extraordinarily nice and the person who is expected
to survive the ordeal.
0 Cook- fat, talkative man. Does not provide much in terms of
physical help in the boat. When he does row, he gets the boat
into trouble and must be helped by the oiler.
0 Captain- the only member of the group who is referred to as
injured. Orders are always listened to. Exerts authority as well
as trying to keep the hopes and spirits of the crew alive. Also
dejected and indifferent about life due to the sinking of his ship.
0 Correspondent- could be considered the main character of the
text. His thoughts and emotions are followed more than others.
He is the outsider of the group and does not understand the
camaraderie of the crew at the beginning of the text. Begins to
understand as the story continues, but is also struck by the
fierceness of nature and the fact that it does not care for
humanities well being.
Point of View
0 Third person omniscient narrator (godlike)- allows
the reader to understand the characters’ obsession
with the sea and their changing emotions on the boat.
External Conflict
0 Man vs. Nature
0 Waves and ocean are constantly being held at bay. Have
the ability to crush the men and their boat at any
moment. The oiler and the correspondent spend most
of the story trying to keep the boat out of the waves.
0 The sea is portrayed as another character and is a
formidable adversary.
0 A shark (or multiple sharks) hovers around the boat,
reminding the characters of the other dangers that the
ocean presents.
Internal Conflict
0 The characters go through various stages of
excitement and grief as the story goes along.
0 In Part I-III, they are almost cheerful about their impending
rescue. There are discussions about who will rescue them
and how soon it will come.
0 In Part IV, when the group spots someone on the shore,
they begin to realize that no one is coming for them and the
area of land they are close to is actually populated by
tourists. Man on the shore continually waves at them, but
does not understand their need for help.
0 Part V-VII- the group become despondent and exhausted.
They realize that no one is going to come for them and that
they must battle the elements of the sea themselves.
Conflicted thoughts about how to survive the brutal ocean.
Irony- Verbal
0 The crew continually repeats the phrase “Funny they haven’t
seen us.”
0 The characters do not want to tell themselves the real reason that
no one is coming for them. Helps to explain Crane’s feelings
about humanity and human nature. The characters want to
believe that someone will come along and help them.
0 Narrator interrupts and contributes several examples of irony in
his description of the sea. Wants the reader to understand the
danger of the sea and show that the members of the boat may
not be properly frightened of the ocean itself.
0 “It was probably splendid, it was probably glorious, this play
of the free sea, wild with lights of emerald and white and
0 “… he would have tumbled comfortably out upon the ocean as
if he felt sure that it was a great, soft mattress.”
0 Man’s frustration and rage at the unconcerned forces
of nature
0 The awakening of the correspondent- his new
realization about the value of life when surrounded by
the awesome forces of nature and certain death.
0 Life is not “fair”- the man most deserving of life (Billy
the oiler) is the only one of the crew not to survive. In
fact, his kindness probably killed him (rowing to the
point of exhaustion).