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Open Boat

Symbolism allows writers to suggest their ideas within a piece of literature. This is found in most types of writing. Stephen Crane expresses this in his short story, The Open Boat. Through symbolism and allegory, it is demonstrated that humans live in a universe that is unconcerned with them. The characters in the story come face to face with this indifference and are nearly overcome by Nature’s lack of concern. This is established in the opening scenes, the “seven mad gods” and in the realization of the dying soldier.The descriptions that Crane uses in the opening scenes illustrate nature’s lack of concern for their tragedy. He discusses the waves in the ocean that continually roll and crest. The waves are problems or situations that are unavoidable; moreover, the “waves” continue to flow one after another towards the poor rowers. Also, the “birds sat comfortably in groups, and they were envied by some in the dingey” because the birds were indifferent towards the sailors’ situation. They were sitting happily as if nothing was going on around them. The sailors were envious of this because they were forced to confront nature’s trials. The sun continues to rise and set daily, maintaining this routine regardless of what occurs in the world. The shore is also “lonely and indifferent.” This indifference causes the men to feel a certain isolation from nature. The men feel as if fate (the “seven mad gods”) controls their destinies. Their thoughts are given: “If I am going to be drowned…why, in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea…If this old ninny-woman, Fate, cannot do better than this…” However, the men realize that there is no “fate” and that there is no purpose for where they are. There is also a shark that is “playing around” near the boat; curiously, it does not seem to even acknowledge t...

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