Study Guide

The Open Boat Tough-o-Meter

By Stephen Crane

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(4) Base Camp

This short story is pretty straightforward. The prose is clear and concise, and it's easy to follow the action. So plot-wise, we've got nothing to worry about. You might want to put it into low gear once we get to the philosophical side of things, though, because that's where things get a little complicated. This story forces us into some pretty tough spots, asking us questions like: is the universe orderly or chaotic? Is humankind important? Are there punishments and rewards for ethical behavior? Careful, because once you step into "The Open Boat," you're heading into some deep philosophical waters. Be sure to wear your lifejacket. 

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