The Open Boat and Other Stories: Annotated (Paperback)

The Open Boat and Other Stories: Annotated By Dynamic Classic Publisher (Editor), Stephen Crane Cover Image

The Open Boat and Other Stories: Annotated (Paperback)


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The Open Boat and Other Stories by Stephen Crane

It is just before dawn, and not far off the Florida coast, between the open sea and the undertow, there are four men on a raft. The ship they were sailing on sank overnight, and they are the only survivors, left swinging up and down in the waves until their bathtub-sized boat capsizes and they drown too. They don't have a moment of peace. The ocean is so rough that an indelicate move will upset the boat and send it into winter waters. Every man, while not sleeping for two days, works tirelessly to keep the boat afloat. The correspondent and the oiler share the rowing work, while the cook curls up on the floor of the dinghy, carrying water. These men take their direction from the captain, who was wounded in the shipwreck and sits gloomy in the bow, the still fresh memory of his ship being swallowed in the sea and the dead faces of the crew in the water.

When day breaks and the cook and the correspondent fight to be saved, the men begin to make progress towards the shore. Fighting despair, they row in silence. Seagulls fly high and perch on the water. Seagulls are so comfortable on the ocean that they land on the captain's head. Men see this as a sinister and insulting gesture, but the captain cannot sweep the bird away because the sudden movement could cause the boat to fall.

Eventually, the captain chases away the bird and they keep rowing until the captain sees a lighthouse in the distance. Although the cook reserves that the nearby lifeboat station has been abandoned for more than a year, the crew is heartened as they approach the land, almost delighting in the brotherhood that has formed and taking care of the affairs of the sea. The correspondent even finds four dry cigars in a pocket, which he shares with the others.

Men's optimism fades when, approaching land but unable to master the turbulent surf, they realize help is not on the way. They head back to the open sea, exhausted and embittered. Another sign of hope comes when the captain sees a man on the ground. Each crew member looks for signs of hope in the man's gestures. They believe that man sees them. Then they think they see two men, then a crowd and perhaps a boat being dragged ashore. They stubbornly think that help is on the way as the shadows lengthen and the sea and sky turn black.

During the night, the men forget that they are rescued and go about the business of the boat. The correspondent and the oiler, exhausted from rowing, intend to alternate all night. But they get tired early in the morning and the cook helps. For the most part, the correspondent lines up alone, wondering how he could have gotten this far if he is just about to drown. Paddling in the phosphorescence and next to a monstrous shark, the correspondent thinks of a poem he learned in childhood about a soldier who dies in a distant land never to return home.

When morning comes, the captain suggests they try surfing while they still have enough energy. They take the boat ashore until it capsizes, and then stop in the freezing water. The oiler leads the group, while the cook and his correspondent swim more slowly and the captain clings to the keel of the overturned dinghy. With the help of a life preserver, the correspondent proceeds well, until he is caught by a current that forces him to get back on the boat. Before he can reach the raft, a wave hurls him into shallower water, where he is rescued by a man who has appeared ashore and dived into the sea to save the crew. On shore, the correspondent enters and exits unconsciousness, but when he regains consciousness, he sees a large number of people on the shore with rescue equipment. He learns that the captain and the cook have been saved but the oiler is dead.

Product Details ISBN: 9798718841817
Publisher: Independently Published
Publication Date: March 8th, 2021
Pages: 262
Language: English