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.