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Ever since it was first published in 1897 The Open Boat has widely been considered a masterpiece of literary realism All of the most recognizable elements of Realism are present within the story In its graphic probing of events and in its objective description of the characters psychological state the story successfully presents a realistic sensation of the characters experience without any of the false heroism or romantic plots that characterized other contemporary fiction The Open Boat has no plot in the traditional sense it is almost a mere description of thoughts and events In fact since author Stephen Crane actually experienced the events related in the story when he was ship-wrecked with the crew of the Commodore one might suspect that the story is not fiction at all Indeed the storys subtitle A Tale Intended to be After the Fact Being the Experience of Four Men From the Sunk Steamer Commodore presents the story as if it were a journalistic account Yet despite its appearance as an objective narrative The Open Boat raises deeply philosophical issues and is rife with symbolism When analyzed closely it becomes clear that a simplistic categorization of the story as realistic fiction fails to do justice to the multi-dimensional qualities of The Open Boat A few days after Crane survived a shipwreck off the Florida coast he published an account of his experience in a newspaper story entitled Stephen Cranes Own Story It is interesting to compare this non-fictional account with the short story The Open Boat which appeared six months later In this first account Crane relates only the events of the Commodores sinking without either the descriptive quality or the access to inner thoughts that characterize the later fictional story In addition Crane deliberately leaves out any description of his experience on the life raft commenting that the history of life in an open boat for thirty hours would no doubt be very instructive for the
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