Study Guide

The Open Boat Section 3

By Stephen Crane

Section 3

  • The narrator describes the "subtle brotherhood" that has developed between the men, making them "iron-bound" friends (3.1).
  • Surprisingly, this feeling of companionship feels awesome to the narrator.
  • Despite the life-or-death nature of this whole stranded at sea thing, the correspondent thinks this has got to be the best experience of his life. All his life, he had been taught to be skeptical of other men, but now he's rethinking the idea.
  • No one mentions their feelings about how secretly awesome this horrific experience is, but we're given the impression that the correspondent may not be the only guy who feels this way.
  • The captain suggests using his overcoat as a sail, and by God, it works. They make good progress toward shore.
  • At the top of each wave, the group can see land.
  • The wind dies down, and the overcoat sail stops working.
  • None of the men have slept since they set off in the ship two days ago. They haven't really eaten either, but they really wish they had. Rowing is hard work without sleep or food.
  • The correspondent thinks some more about how much he hates rowing. Let's just say, he really doesn't like it.
  • He mentions this to the oiler, how awful and stupid rowing is. The oiler smiles in agreement.
  • Even worse, the oiler had just worked a double-shift on the ship when it sunk. So, yeah, he's even more tired than the others.
  • The captain reminds the rowers to conserve their strength in case they get tossed from the boat and have to swim for land. When you're lost at sea you've got to be prepared for anything, apparently.
  • They get closer to land. They can see the beach, and some trees, and a lighthouse.
  • The captain says the lighthouse keeper should have seen them by now and notified the lifesaving people. (Interesting, isn't it, how they're assuming someone is in the lighthouse, looking down on them from above…Hint, hint.)
  • The oiler quietly reminds the men that there were other lifeboats that escaped from the sinking ship. If any of them had reached shore, there would now be a search and rescue team looking for them. So he figures none of them did.
  • The wind shifts and they move even closer to shore. They can't help but get excited. They're sure they'll be on dry land in less than an hour.
  • They're so used to riding in the boat by now, they almost feel like they're riding a big horse.
  • The correspondent reaches into his coat pocket and finds eight cigars. Four of them are soaking wet, but the other four are totally dry. What are the chances?
  • Someone finds three dry matches—a miracle. The men celebrate their imminent rescue by smoking their cigars and taking one big drink of water each.

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