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In Stephen Crane's short story "The Open Boat", the American literary school of naturalism is used and three

of the eight features are most apparent, making thi s work, in my opinion, a good example of the school of naturalism. These three o f the eight features are determinism, objectivity, and pessimism. They show, som e more than others, how Stephen Crane viewed the world and the environment aroun d him. Determinism is of course the most obvious of the three features. Through out the entire story, the reader gets a sense that the fate of the four main ch aracters, the cook, the oiler, the correspondent, and the captain are totally pr e-determined by nature and that they were not their own moral agents. "The littl e boat, lifted by each towering sea and splashed viciously by the crests, made p rogress that in the absence of seaweed was not apparent to those in her." The ch aracters had no control over their boat, rather nature was totally in control. " She seemed just a wee thing wallowing, miraculously top up, at the mercy of the five oceans. Occasionally a great spread of water, like white flames, swarmed in to her." (pg.145) There is also a sense that man is totally not important to the natural forces controlling his fate. "When it occurs to man that nature does no t regard him as important, and that she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple, and he hate s deeply that there are no bricks and no temples."(pg156) The one character who perishes, the oiler, is of course a victim of determinism. Even as he was so clo se to land and no longer out in the open sea, nature still takes its role in det ermining his fate. Objectivity refers to how the author describes reality as it exists, tha t is, not glorifying something, but rather simply stating the observation. The f act that the narrator is the correspondent in itself give an impression on how t he story is going to be told in a more journalistic sense, describing actual eve nts instead of feelings or ideas. " In the meantime the oiler and the correspond ent rowed. They sat together in the same seat, and each rowed an oar. Then the o iler took both oars; then the correspondent took both oars; then the oiler; then the correspondent. They rowed and they rowed." (pg144) Writing something repeat edly in the manner Crane does in this passage gives the reader a sense of the re petitiveness and frustration the four main characters faced being lost out at se a. Pessimism, in my opinion, is apparent throughout the entire story. Altho ugh the four men do have the will to survive, it always seems as if nature is al ways playing the most important role. " If I am going to be drowned--if I am goi ng to be drowned--if I am going to be drowned, why in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and t rees." This passage is said not once, but twice in the short story, strengthenin g the fact that a sense of pessimism is present throughout the story while also expressing the anger the characters feel toward the ever present fate of nature. The entire story in itself is a portrayal not of the conflict between ma n and nature, but rather the effect and control nature has on human fate, streng thening the naturalistic ideas and views through this tale of four stranded men . The fact that the waves, the tides, the freezing water and all the other chara cteristics of the controlling force are ever present, make, in my opinion, the s ea the most important character in "The Open Boat", the four men are just the wa y in which this is brought through to the reader.

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