An Analysis of Imagery in the Open Boat by Stephen Crane

Topics: The Open Boat

The imagery used in The Open Boat brings a vivid image to the reader’s mind. As four men are in a boat being tossed by the sea with no hope of life, the boat is approaching land. With the men’s view of the land from the crest of each wave, the description of the land gives the reader an actual picture in his or her mind of not only the approach of the land but also the approach of a hope to continue living.

No land is in sight as the four men are tossed by the mighty waves of the ocean. The imagery describes the sea meets the sky with only blankets of seaweed in sight. The correspondent describes how he perceives the view, giving the reader a feeling of no hope.

As the rowing continues, a lighthouse on a distant shore comes into view. It was precisely like the point of a pin. It took an anxious eye to find a lighthouse so tiny (Crane, 457).

Through this sentence, Stephen Crane makes the reader see the lighthouse, not actually as a tall building but as nothing more than a shadow on the horizon.

Towards the shadow of the lighthouse the four men row. Land comes into view as a shadow. Cran describes the land as being thinner than a piece of paper. Imagery lets the reader see the land and the hope of life becoming stronger as more and more of the land is seen.

Slowly the land arose from the sea.

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From a black line, it became a line of black and a line of white trees and sand. Finally, the captain said that he could make out a house on the shore (Crane, 458). The reader could see the land approaching with each new crest of the waves through the use of imagery. The hope of survival is becoming stronger with each new sighting.

Night comes and rowing continues. As daylight approaches, many small, black cottages and a tall windmill sit on a distant shore. Crane describes the four men’s thoughts in vivid detail as life is viewed on the shore. The chance to live seemed more evident than any prior moment on this journey.

Throughout the journey, Crane uses imagery to describe the approaching land and the thoughts of the four men. Each description makes the reader feel as if he or she is sitting in the boat viewing the ocean and the land. With each new description, the readers view the approach of not only the land but also the hope to leave the sea not as a victim but as a survivor, with a new respect for nature.

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An Analysis of Imagery in the Open Boat by Stephen Crane. (2022, Aug 13). Retrieved from

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