they experience death. According to Kubler-Ross\u2019 stages, which are denial, anger,
bargaining, depression, and acceptance, one can see that the characters in The Open Boat
are experiencing these stages.
An example of the first stage of death and dying, denial, can be found in the
characters, when they feel that their death is inevitable. Even though the men in the small
dinghy were completely aware that they did not have much of a chance to survive, they
still avoided the fact that this is actually happening to them. For example, when the
captain says "Oh, well, we'll get ashore all right," it shows that there is denial among the
men that they are going to die. The captain says this with such confidence that they will
make it regardless of the actual danger they are really faced with.
The next stage that the men deal with is anger, and they clearly show it when the
finally figure out that they may not make it ashore. The crew shows anger in either
blatant or non-blatant ways. For example, when the men saw the sea gulls flying around,
The birds sat comfortably in groups, and they were envied by some in the
dinghy, for the wrath of the sea was no more to them than it was to a
covey of prairie chickens a thousand miles inland. Often they came very
close and stared at the men with black bead-like eyes. At these times they
were uncanny and sinister in their unblinking scrutiny, and the men hooted
angrily at them, telling them to be gone.
The crew is shown here to be angry because they know it is not the birds\u2019 fault that the
crew is in that situation but the crew still envies them just because the birds are not
affected by the \u201cwrath\u201d of the ocean. The crew would have not behaved in this manner if
they were not in the position they were at that particular moment. Also, the men insult the
birds with names such as \u201cugly brutes,\u201d thus proving that they are angry that they may
die in the ocean.
The next stage of death and dying that is found in the story is bargaining, where the men try to bargain in order not to have to die. Some usual forms of bargaining may include promises to oneself that he/she will do better in life if given another chance for survival. The correspondent in the story uses a perfect example of bargaining when he thinks to himself the many things he would do if given another chance. This can be seen in his stream of consciousness:
It is, perhaps, plausible that a man in this situation, impressed with the
unconcern of the universe, should see the innumerable flaws of his life and
have them taste wickedly in his mind and wish for another chance. A
distinction between right and wrong seems absurdly clear to him, then, in
this new ignorance of the grave-edge, and he understands that if he were
given another opportunity he would mend his conduct and his words, and
be better and brighter during an introduction, or at a tea.
According to what the correspondent is thinking, one can see that he is aware of the
possibility of death and bargains by saying how he would \u201cmend his conduct and his
words\u201d or be \u201cbetter and brighter.\u201d This is a great example of bargaining in the story at its
The next stage, depression, is one which can be described when the characters
know their fate, and that they cannot change it, therefore just mentally fall apart. This
stage happens when the crews has no possible means of survival and attempt anything to
survive no matter how small the odds may be. For example, when the crew knows they
will not survive, they jump off the boat and attempt to swim ashore. It is obvious that the
correspondent is depressed when he jumps off the boat because he compares the coldness
of the water with his feelings about his own situation. He uses words such as \u201ctragic\u201d and
sad, which are what someone feels when they are depressed. Depression clearly is what
the crew is feeling when the correspondent jumps off the dinghy:
Now bringing you back...
Does that email address look wrong? Try again with a different email.