The Open Boat – Activities

In literature, the teacher, Pato, gave us some questions to answer about the story we read in class called “The Open Boat”. We had to work with a partner, I worked with Santi Guerrico. Here are the answers:


The Open Boat Study questions

  1. The Oiler is given the name Billie because he is the right hand of the captain. The others are only referred to generally because they survive and the Oiler does not.
  2. The Oiler died because he just followed the Captain’s orders and never complained, for example one time the weather was dangerous but he followed the Captain’s orders anyway.
  3. The view of nature presented in this story is that nature is far much superior than humans.
  4. The view of the men presented in this story is that men are not very smart and inferior to nature.
  5. The men in the open boat relate to each other as brothers and equal.
  6. In the story we can find repetitions of colours, such as black, gray or white. Also, the word such as “Fate” which means destiny. The colours can represent the situation of the four men in the boat, as they were near the coast, the colours white and gray were mentioned, but if they were far away from the cost, the colour black was mentioned. So by mentioning the colours, we can get to know their situation.
  7. The narrator uses the Correspondent to intrude in the story. We can see the Correspondent as the critical viewpoint or the philosopher. As he is different from the rest of the men in the boat, he was more critic with the things that happened there, he reflex and think about it. In addition to this, the story is based in Stephen Crane own experience. In our opinion, it is distracting, because it may make you think about other things that happened while you are reading. We think it is effective as this happened to us while reading.
  8. We think the narrator is being ironic as the story ends with the phrase: “…and they felt that they could be interpreters.” This could mean they were the interpreters of the story of this four men lost in the sea.
  9. Crane used this structure because in one part of the story the captain says: “If I am going to be drowned, if I am going 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…” By making seven sections he refers to the seven gods of the sea, and by using the Roman numerals he refers to the gods of the Roman mythology.


Pathways to Interpretation:


  1. The writer is connected to the story because he had a similar experience some years before writing this story.
  2. The story is connected to naturalism and determinism because the men in the open boat believed that what happened was determined to be like that, and they couldn’t change it.


Patterns in “The Open Boat” (Choose 2)


  1. References to Colours: The narrator uses colors to represent the mood of the men in each chapter. An example of this is when the men were near land, he, the author, used the colour white and as they were far from it he used the colour gray and black. This represented their mood, white meaning they were happy because they were near land, and black and gray meaning they were sad or depressed because they were far from land.
  2. References to Animals: In the story the narrator mentions a lot of animals symbolising something. For example at one point in the story a gull flew to the boat, and that meant they had hope of land being near.


8) There are a few clues about the Oiler’s death. This is one clue: The correspondent told a story about a soldier that was the right hand of the general that died because of following his orders. This story foreshadows the death of the Oiler because the Oiler was the Captain’s right hand and he also died following the Captain’s orders.


9) In the story, there is a moment when the captain tries to sleep, but he couldn’t, this can mean he will live as sleeping is the closest thing to death we know and he couldn’t. But there is another moment where the Oiler tries to sleep, and he slept very well, the Oiler died after, so this could be a foreshadowing of his death.


11) The men in the “Open Boat” are spared by nature except for the Oiler that was punished by nature for following the Captain’s orders no matter what and the nature overcame him.