The Open Boat


Stephen Crane

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Soldier Symbol Analysis

Soldier Symbol Icon

The soldier from the poem that the correspondent remembers from his youth (Caroline E. S. Norton’s “Bingers on the Rhine”) symbolizes mankind’s helplessness and mortality. Clutching his bleeding chest with his left hand, the soldier tries in vain to keep from dying, even though his death is already fast approaching and he has no access to a nurse. By recalling the soldier from this poem, the correspondent recognizes his own powerlessness in the face of the violent ocean. When the correspondent is flung into the ocean after the lifeboat capsizes, he clutches a piece of a lifebelt across his chest with his left hand, mirroring the soldier clutching his bleeding heart.

Soldier Quotes in The Open Boat

The The Open Boat quotes below all refer to the symbol of Soldier. 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 VI Quotes

He has never considered it his affair that a soldier of the Legion lay dying in Algiers, nor had it appeared to him as a matter for sorrow. It was less to him than the breaking of a pencil’s point. Now, however, it quaintly came to him as a human, living thing.

Related Characters: Correspondent
Related Symbols: Soldier
Explanation and Analysis:
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Soldier Symbol Timeline in The Open Boat

The timeline below shows where the symbol Soldier appears in The Open Boat. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part VI
Humans vs. Nature Theme Icon
Suffering, Survival, Empathy, and Community Theme Icon
...thinks of a verse from a poem he knew in his childhood about a dying soldier. The soldier has no access to a nurse, but his fellow soldier holds his hand... (full context)