“The Open Boat” and “Since Feeling Is First”

One of the best stories ever penned was "The Open Boat," by Stephen Crane. Crane makes use of cosmic irony, which suggests a vast cosmos that makes people seem small and results in apathy toward man's plight. This concept is made visible through three examples that are used to illustrate the cosmic irony, including the sea fighting the universe, the ocean's strength opposing the tiny boat, and the tiny boat carrying passengers. The ocean's supremacy, whose pristine power is indifferent to the small boats, here stands in for the cosmos. On the other hand, the poem Since Feeling Is First written by E. E. Cummings illustrates how emotions manifest the actions of a person. Cummings creates an impression that one should follow the heart and not the mind. Cummings’ poem is short and lyrical and features unpredictable punctuation and an unconventional syntax. The speaker of the poem tries to justify his actions by offering his passionate kisses to the woman he loves. Stephen crane and E. E. Cummings are brilliant writers who through their mastery of poetics skills manage to attract the attention of the reader and convey the intended message.

Critical Analysis

The story of “The Open Boat" characterizes Crane’s naturalistic style which is a point of view that does emphasize the physical environment, material as detrimental human behavior. Crane uses imagery and tone in portraying the heartless indifferences of nature. The lines that opens “None of them knew the color of the sky” builds a void world establishing an emotional value and an immediate bleakness (Crane 1). The seas are to be the only green and gray, which suggests hope to the land that man cannot be able to reach. The tone is consistently maintained by the men, and this supports the theme of indifference. Imagery is constantly employed in the story, which helps to reinforce the intended meaning. The author depicts that the men are overpowered by the sea and the boat, where the waves "slate walls" and "snarling" crests (Crane 2). The message is conveyed in poetic prose. Individual vs. nature, appearance and reality, death and free will are the other themes that are profoundly emphasized. Every man in the boat and particularly the correspondent recognizes that they are helpless in the face of nature ads they understand that their lives are endangered by the natural phenomena of strong winds and huge waves.

The dramatization of the story emanates from the idea of realizing that the men are likely to drown evidencing the theme of death. The limitation of the men’s perspectives along with the discrepancy between interpretation and reality derive the theme of appearance vs. reality. The dilemma of whether people can be able to exercise control over their fate or whether the environment predetermines one's fate depicts the aspect of free will. The fate of the four men rests in the hands of the forces that are beyond their control. Crane provides a shifting point of view where at one instance it is narrated from the vantage point of an objective observer and alternates to the perspective of the crew members. The reader gets an impression that the four men have the same feeling concerning their predicament. The setting is in the sea which helps to bring out the symbolic meaning and the themes. The presence of boats, the large waves, and winds, as well as the title of the story "The Open Boat," infers that the setting is in sea water. The conflict depicted is that of man against nature. The four men, captain, the cook, Billy Higgens and the correspondent make up the entire list of characters in the story and no protagonist is apparent. Evidently, Crane uses plural pronouns in the entire writing which creates an impression that their predicament is a collective experience.

Cummings' poem has 16 lines and concerns a man who expresses his love to a woman. The stanzas are grouped in syntax error without proper punctuation. The use of the syntax error shows that life is not structured as a paragraph, but lacks logical order that is contained in a paragraph. The poem is free versed, and narrated from the first person point of view and the persona is a man who is deeply in love. The tone is romantic and realization. The speaker thinks that there is nothing bigger than love and figuratively the poem depicts people who forget to realize the greater things in life because they pay more attention to trivial matters (Gale 9). Also, the underlining theme is logic versus emotions. The narrator portrays that emotions are vital, powerful, and that somebody should pay attention to them. The emotions of the speaker are addressed to a lady who feels connected too, and this is evident from the words "my blood approves of the relationship," and "kisses are a better fate than wisdom" (Cummings).

The themes are enhanced through the use of are also literary devices such as metaphor and imagery. Metaphor is shown in line three where the speaker uses the word "syntax." This intriguing intensive metaphor suggests the strong passion that alludes to the need of following emotional feelings. The poem is romantic and its imagery teaches life lessons and notably, the use of the literary devices makes it more appealing to the reader. It carries the theme of love, which is directed at telling the audience that they should live and love. He states "For life's not a paragraph and death I think is no parenthesis" (Cummings). This is a metaphor meaning that life and death do not have to be structured and confined. This is unlike parenthesis which confines words in itself. The lives of people do not have to be confined to rules and mechanisms. The title "Since Feeling Is First" and the first line dramatize the conflict between the emotional and intellectual as well as rational and irrational (Gale 9).


The men in the story "The Open Boat" signal to the reader the significance of having compassion for others, true moral standards in an immoral cosmos, courage, and stoic endurance. Indeed, the cynical view of human society is well reflected in the poem. Even though the men see the universe as being inhospitable, they develop hope in the human solidarity as a means of human salvation. Cummings, through his writing, shows readers his natural inclination towards love emotions and the justification why emotions should be a priority. His writing style does play a major role in understanding the meaning behind the poem. He unveils that if one dwells on how things are supposed to be, the person is likely to fail in recognizing the great things available in nature. In the entire poem, Cummings proves that life is worth enjoying and making the best of it even when things seem to go opposite as planned.

Works Cited

Crane, Stephen. The Open Boat. Harpercollins. Canada, 2014.

Cummings. E. E. Since Feeling Is First. Daily Poetry. 2006. https://dailypoetry.me/e-e-cummings/since-feeling-is-first/ (Accessed on August 31, 2017)

Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide For E.E. Cummings's ""Since Feeling Is First"". Farmington Hills, Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016,.

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price