Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat" takes four men who have little history together, which include a cook, captain, correspondent, and an oiler, and places them shipwrecked off the east coast of Florida in a small ten foot dinghy. The four men were at sea in this dinghy for thirty hours before it finally washed up upon shore. This story shows the relationship and conflict between humanity and nature as it is portrayed between the men and the sea. To the men in the boat, their main goal is to survive so they view the sea with the utmost importance, yet the sea views them indifferently. Their lives" are in the hands of the sea. This conflict which is portrayed on a small scale in the story is reflective of what occurs on a grander scale in the universe between nature and humanity.
"None of them knew the color of the sky. Their eyes glanced level and were fastened upon the waves that swept towards them.(48)" This first line of the story is very important because it means that they could not physically take their eyes off of the waves and the ocean to look up at the sky. If they were to do this they would be in danger of having a wave come and overturn their boat which could mean death. They need to keep their eyes on staying alive. This line also sets the tone of the story for establishing the idea of a conflict between humanity and nature. Humans cannot conceive or understand what is in the sky or above their heads. They cannot be certain or understand if it is Heaven, God, or clouds and the rest of the universe. But the sea and what is right in front of their eyes are conceivable because they have proof of it. These everyday mundane things are the only things that they are really ever able to focus on. The characters" lives are at the mercy of the sea which they are able to literally see, but they still are not able to see their fate, similar to the sky, which they cannot see.