Analyzing Stephen Crane’s prose style.
The above paragraph provides a deep insight into the naturalist writing style of the author, Stephen Crane (Colvert, 35). The first sentence mentions ‘None of them knew the color of the sky’. This displays an uncertain perspective in the forefront but if delved deeply displays ontology of corrected aesthetic reply. This is a figurative speech and the author on one hand admits that people do not know the ‘color of the sky’ and on the other hand mentions that people know the ‘colors of the sea’. The prose here emphasizes on the ‘colors of the sea’. It speaks about agency, integrity, character, antagonism and above all the power of the sea to decide on matters concerning death and life. The sentence claiming that all the people were aware of the ‘colors of the sea’ is an understatement. They know the seas as well as they know the palm of their hands. The word ‘knew’ in the passage signifies the development of ‘brotherhood’ based on having similar knowledge about the sea. In the later part of the story, the author details camaraderie by telling the reader that the men in the boat use a lot of gestures and hints while conversing with each other. This further depicts irony and especially a reflection into the black shades of humor.
The manner in which the sea is described by the author is also noteworthy. He describes the waves of the sea as ‘of the hue of slate’. However, in the opinion of the men, the sea waves are ‘jagged’. The word ‘jagged’ is associated with rocks especially those which are sharp and difficult to climb. To the reader, it seems like the men on the boat are trying to tackle a mountain pass and not the sea. This is a metaphor which signifies the sea as the land and the water as the rocks. In this case, the word ‘jagged’ is almost applied by Crane to play the function of a verb. Crane extensively uses symbolism, imagery and metaphors in this short paragraph (Colvert, 38).
The last sentence describes the waves as ‘most wrongfully and barbarously abrupt and tall’. The words ‘barbarously abrupt’ are used by the elite class or the polite class to those who are downtrodden or extremely rash. The words further sketch that the waves have grievously sinned against those hailing from a polite society by behaving in an uncivil manner. Also the words, ‘each froth-top was a problem in small boat navigation’ is an understatement. Problem in small boat navigation may well be the title of a book or an article or something which is used as a study material possibly by aspiring Coast Guards. By this sentence, Crane compares the connection of water and men in an academic or clinical perspective.
After perusing through the entire paragraph, one can determine the use of cosmic irony by Stephen Crane. Cosmic irony believes that men are puny creatures if compared with the universe and the universe is totally indifferent to human travails. Specific examples may be found in this short paragraph which depicts cosmic irony. The small boat fighting to survive the mighty waves of the sea, the small boat in a massive ocean away from those who are safe at the shore depicts cosmic irony. The universe represents the powerful sea and the small boat in the vast ocean depicts man (Colvert, 36).
The passage also describes an existential view towards the men in the boat. In this case, the author describes a situation in which the men are bound in a small boat and have to fight with the majestic sea with its colossal waves in order to survive. The author also maintains that the men are well aware that the sea has the power to take away their lives or spare their lives. The sky and the sea are not bothered by their travails and do not respect the valor, brotherhood and courage displayed by the men in their fight for survival.
Colvet, James B. “Style and meaning in Stephen Crane: The Open Boat.” Texas Studies in English, 37(1958): 34 – 45. Print.