The Open Boat Poem Analysis

Submitted By meganshipley
Words: 439
Pages: 2

“The Open Boat” gives off a haunting feeling of loneliness that comes from a harsh understanding that he is alone in the universe and really just insignificant in the way that it works. Underneath several rants at destiny and the universe is the simple fear of nothingness. Man has a belief that they should have a role in the universe, that their existence should mean something. When the correspondent realizes that fate will not answer his pleas, he settles into despair. Shortly after, he recalls the poem about the soldier who lies dying in Algiers. This reflects his feelings of alienation within the universe. Like the soldier who dies in alien territory, the correspondent fears that he too will perish without a connection to whatever gives him his sense of self.

Throughout “The Open Boat,” the correspondent understands pain to be the result of his efforts to overcome nature. He eventually learns to appreciate his suffering because it is gained in a noble effort; in the earlier sections, the correspondent, whom the narrator says is cynical, is often very joyous and detailed in his descriptions of the physical pain he experiences. By the end of the story, however, he has gained a new awareness that the universe is unconcerned with the situation’s outcome. This realization makes him physically and spiritually exhausted. He decides that there is no higher purpose to surviving other than prolonging a life that is meaningless. His comment that the coldness of the water is simply “sad” really emphasizes his despair. At this point, all sensations of pain and pleasure are merely physical and have no spiritual significance.