The Open Boat

Stephen Crane


This is the story about 4 guys who are in a lifeboat after they get in a shipwreck. This is based on a true story. The author (Crane) was on a ship called the Commodore. On New Years Eve, the ship crashed and he was in a lifeboat trying to survive.


The Cook: A cook who was on the ship. He is now on the lifeboat and his job is to empty all the water that is in the lifeboat.

The Oiler: Another person who was working on the ship. He is on the lifeboat now and is one of the guys paddling

The Correspondent: He was on the ship. He is now paddling on the lifeboat.

Captain: He is the captain of the ship. He is injured though and canít paddle. He is giving directions on the lifeboat.


The story starts out with them on the lifeboat. There is really no mention of the shipwreck. They are in a lifeboat, lost at sea, off the coast of Florida. The oiler and the correspondent are taking turns paddling with the oar they have. They think they see a lighthouse. As they try to get closer to the lighthouse, they use the captainís overcoat to make a sail. It works until the wind dies down. Then they get closer to the land and see it really is land. But they are amazed that nobody sees them. They try to paddle inland but the waves are too damn strong and are kicking the boatís ass. Also, it is too far for them to swim. So they have to wait until the sea is calmer to go inland. They paddle deeper out to sea where it is calm. Then the 4 guys see a man on the shore. He waves to them. They think he is gonna rescue them. Turns out he just is being friendly. Then they see a machine on the beach. They think it is a lifesaving crew, but it turns out to be a hotel bus dropping off hotel guests. So they keep paddling. The oiler and correspondent take turns. Then when the correspondent is paddling, he starts daydreaming. He thinks about this story he heard when he was younger about a Legionnaire soldier dying in Algiers. The soldier just laid on the sand to die, perfectly still.

Then the captain directs the guys back for another run at the shore. They go and decide to jump out and swim when they are close enough. They paddle inland and jump out and swim. The injured captain hangs on to the boat. They make it inland and people are waiting there with blankets and food. They are saved. Yeah!!!


  • The correspondent in this story is actually based on Stephen Crane, the author. He was in a shipwreck and was lost at sea with 3 guys.
  • Hereís a question to ask in class to make it look like you read. Ask your teacher if the Oiler dies in the end. There really is no mention of him at the very end of the story when they are on the beach and his fate is not explained.
  • This is a story about 4 men coming together and surviving. They are different men from different backgrounds but all work together.
  • A big theme in this book is imagination, and how the thoughts of each man carried him through this ordeal.