A Critical Analysis of Modernism in – The Open Boat – Poem

Literature is an integral part of art that describes transitional processes of one generation to another. Art began during pre-historic times where people communicated their cultural values through imagery and painting. Different authors have identified unique ways of transforming literature in varying literature forms such as poems, short stories or music. Stephen Cranes (1871-1900) represents a generation of writers whose literature authorship depicted modernism – as evidenced in their works – where norms in traditional literature practices are forgone to pave way for newly crafted literature styles or themes in literature. Modernism is presented in unique ways – as evidenced The Open Boat poem – in which its values are manifested in different contemporary lifestyle practices and activities.

Stephen Crane is celebrated for his communication efficiency efforts that relay different messages of realism, impressionism, naturalism, and symbolism. The basis or fundamental principles of literature are founded on communication effectiveness and efficiency. This justifies why different authors strive to adopt – and successfully implement – writing practices that relate to a certain category of an audience. Symbolism is a rich stylistic device which creates a sense of anxiety and curiosity in an audience which is keen on deriving moral values from a given work of literature. The Open Boat poem illustrates a modernistic practice in writing which captures the human aspect of psychology when interpreting scenarios and seeking solutions to a problem (Devine 223). It is common, in the modern world, to encounter human conflict arising from lack of a common understanding between certain parties. As a means of expressing one’s psychological perception of an issue, individuals use communication symbols that reiterate or emphasize an argument.

Religion is considered an integral part of the social and cultural life of any given individual. Most authors ensure that an element of religious integration is captured in the works of literature. Modern literature works have incorporated the essence of religion as renowned authors have sought ways that justify the realities of human activities on the environment through uncontrolled economic activities (Brandt 183). Literature – during the second half of the 18th centuries – began agitating of informed human decision in saving humanity and the environment. Such activities depicted a transformed way of life which warmly embraced the Agrarian and Industrial Revolution. Stephen Cranes – in The Open Boat poem – captures the significance of a prayer which explains his religious experience. Human life is encountered with numerous challenges that range from the social struggle for equal recognition to economic equality in employment practices. Being a newly realized challenge, writers were keen to capture that section of human struggle in which religious solutions were trusted more than civilized processes of seeking solutions.

Stephen Crane seems fascinated by integrating an open-minded style of writing which is a modernistic practice evidenced in literature works of the 19th century. In most literature works of this period, authors ensured that a given course of action would attract a particular set of predetermined consequences. It was common for high schools and campuses to incorporate curriculums that included a literature source; whose stylistic devices and themes informed the audience of the consequences of breaching traditional and cultural values of a community. The Open Boat poem shows Stephen Crane’s aspect of modernism in which the audience is provided with the liberty of narrowing into conclusions from a given work of literature (Devine 226). This is evidenced in the fact that most critics of Stephen Crane question his literature style of ineffectively providing a probable consequence in the poem. His approach to modernism is to reflect the actual realities of human struggle and different interpretations that can serve as ultimate solutions.

Moreover, people have developed different styles of communicating or relaying information with respect to the channel adopted for implementing the process. Traditional art encouraged the use of sound and voices especially in theatres where poems and human stories were narrated with humor to an audience. The beginning or art, as evidenced in ancient imagery and painting, describes an era in literature where people relayed information using unique communication channels and strategies (Brandt 186). For instance, cave paintings of a village elder beating a drum to invite village members for cultural activity is an indication that the information relay was a complexly integrated process. Stephen Crane seems knowledgeable of different information relay strategies in which he uses poems to introduce his symbolic themes and stories. The Open Boat poem, naturalistic themes are introduced indicating a struggle for communication as affected by natural forces from the environment.

The above analysis provides an evaluation platform which signifies the transition of traditional literature practices using modernism as the main catalyst. Breaking the norms and traditions of human art in disciplines related to literature would encounter criticism for transforming the values of literature as a social and cultural practice inherent to people. The Open Boat poem – by Stephen Crane – illustrate an aspect of literature which communicates realism, symbolism, naturalism, and expressionism in unique ways. Through an adequate consideration and integration of religion, writing styles and communication practices; literature is transformed from traditional perception and values to practices indicating modernism in the poem.



Works Cited

Brandt, Stefan L. “Open Doors, Closed Spaces: The Transatlantic Imaginary in American City            Writing from Post-revolutionary Literature to Modernism.” Cities and the Circulation of    Culture in the Atlantic World. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2017. 179-205.

Devine, Michael. “The Whole Thing (and Other Things): From Panorama to Attraction in    Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat,” Ashcan Painting, and Early Cinema.” Sensationalism        and the Genealogy of Modernity. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2017. 217-238.