Stephen Crane’s The Open Boat

Analyzes short story as example of 19th cent. Amer. naturalism & theme of individual struggling against harsh environment.

Against this magnificence of the natural world, the men seem diminished. We come to understand that the captain is in general a brave man and not unintelligent he does help bring about their salvation with his suggestion that they use his coat as a sail. But we also understand that he views the sea as an enemy, as a foe to be met and either defeated or be vanquished by. His inability to see the connections among all natural things himself included diminishes him. The oiler, whom we come to understand is a man who always follows orders, is a reflection of the captain. He is a man who is good at following orders, and skillful at his craft, but not good at thinking for himself which would have made him an invaluable crewmember but means that he has relatively little to contribute once they are stranded.