The Open Boat

by

Stephen Crane

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The cook is a cheerful, chubby man who rides the ten-foot lifeboat alongside the captain, the correspondent, and the oiler. He is responsible for bailing the water out of the boat while the captain gives orders and the correspondent and the oiler row. Throughout the story, the cook clings tightly to optimism for comfort and frequently voices his certainty of their impending rescue—but he is always wrong. The cook serves as a foil to the captain’s more practical acceptance of uncertainty. Although eventually pulled from the water by the life-saving man, the cook survived in the sea thanks to the captain, who instructed him to float on his back and use an oar to row himself to shore.

Cook Quotes in The Open Boat

The The Open Boat quotes below are all either spoken by Cook or refer to Cook. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Humans vs. Nature Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Thrift Editions edition of The Open Boat published in 1993.
Part III Quotes

It would be difficult to describe the subtle brotherhood of men that was here established on the seas. No one said that it was so. No one mentioned it. But it dwelt in the boat, and each man felt it warm him. They were a captain, an oiler, a cook, and a correspondent, and they were friends, friends in a more curiously iron-bound degree than may be common.

Related Characters: Correspondent, Captain, Oiler, Cook
Explanation and Analysis:
Part IV Quotes

If I am going to be drowned—if I am going to be drowned—if I am going to be drowned, why, in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees? Was I brought here merely to have my nose dragged away as I way about to nibble the sacred cheese of life?

Related Characters: Correspondent, Captain, Oiler, Cook
Explanation and Analysis:

If this old ninny-woman, Fate, cannot do better than this, she should be deprived of the management of men’s fortunes. She is an old hen who knows not her intention. If she has decided to drown me, why did she not do it at the beginning and save me all this trouble? The whole affair is absurd… But no, she cannot mean to drown me. She dare not drown me. She cannot drown me. Not after all this work.

Related Characters: Correspondent, Captain, Oiler, Cook
Explanation and Analysis:
Part VI Quotes

For it was certainly an abominable injustice to drown a man who had worked so hard, so hard. The man felt it would be a crime most unnatural. Other people had drowned at sea since galleys swarmed with painted sails, but still—

Related Characters: Correspondent, Captain, Oiler, Cook
Explanation and Analysis:

When it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important…he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple, and he hates deeply the fact that there are no bricks and no temples. Any visible expression of nature would surely be pelleted with his jeers.

Related Characters: Correspondent, Captain, Oiler, Cook
Explanation and Analysis:
Part VII Quotes

When it came night, the white waves paced to and fro in the moonlight, and the wind brought the sound of the great sea’s voice to the men on shore, and they felt that they could then be interpreters.

Related Characters: Correspondent, Captain, Cook
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Open Boat LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Open Boat PDF

Cook Character Timeline in The Open Boat

The timeline below shows where the character Cook appears in The Open Boat. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part I
Suffering, Survival, Empathy, and Community Theme Icon
Certainty and Uncertainty  Theme Icon
The first passenger is the cook, who is in charge of bailing water out of the lifeboat. The oiler (that is,... (full context)
Certainty and Uncertainty  Theme Icon
The cook says that there is a “house of refuge” close by, near Mosquito Inlet, so the... (full context)
Part II
Humans vs. Nature Theme Icon
Suffering, Survival, Empathy, and Community Theme Icon
The cook expresses relief that there is an on-shore wind, stating that without it, the men wouldn’t... (full context)
Certainty and Uncertainty  Theme Icon
The oiler, the cook, and the correspondent feel optimistic but don’t voice it, because they feel that voicing their... (full context)
Part III
Certainty and Uncertainty  Theme Icon
The cook and the correspondent attach the captain’s coat to the mast as a makeshift sail, which... (full context)
Part IV
Certainty and Uncertainty  Theme Icon
The captain realizes the house of refuge is empty, telling the cook, “there don’t seem to be any signs of life about your house of refuge,” to... (full context)
Humans vs. Nature Theme Icon
Suffering, Survival, Empathy, and Community Theme Icon
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
...complaints and the infrequent “subdued growl of a crest,” the night is quiet. Half-awake, the cook sleepily asks the oiler what his favorite flavor of pie is. (full context)
Part V
Suffering, Survival, Empathy, and Community Theme Icon
The oiler and the correspondent chastise the cook for tempting them with the thought of food, while the cook dreamily mumbles about ham... (full context)
Humans vs. Nature Theme Icon
Suffering, Survival, Empathy, and Community Theme Icon
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
The correspondent looks at the oiler and the cook huddled together in the bottom of the boat as they sleep, and he likens them... (full context)
Part VI
Humans vs. Nature Theme Icon
Suffering, Survival, Empathy, and Community Theme Icon
Later that evening, the captain instructs the oiler and the correspondent to sleep while the cook watches over the boat. He tells the cook to yell out if the boat floats... (full context)
Suffering, Survival, Empathy, and Community Theme Icon
The cook eventually calls out that the boat has floated near shore, so the correspondent takes the... (full context)
Part VII
Suffering, Survival, Empathy, and Community Theme Icon
The correspondent looks around for the other men. Nearby, the cook bobs up and down in the water, while the captain holds onto the overturned boat... (full context)
Suffering, Survival, Empathy, and Community Theme Icon
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
...shore ceases. In the midst of the confusion, he hears the captain yelling to the cook to turn over on his back and use an oar to row himself to shore... (full context)
Suffering, Survival, Empathy, and Community Theme Icon
The life-saving man on the shore who had been running and undressing lugs the cook to shore and plods through the waves to the captain, who gestures for the man... (full context)
Humans vs. Nature Theme Icon
Suffering, Survival, Empathy, and Community Theme Icon
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
...roof, but he is grateful for the land regardless. The shore greets the correspondent, the cook, and the captain in a “warm and generous” way, as the shore swarms with people... (full context)