The Open Boat

by: Stephen Crane

The Captain

Characters The Captain

The captain is the consummate leader, a man who never shirks from the responsibility he takes for those who have entrusted their safety to him. When he loses his ship to the sea at the beginning of the story, the captain suffers infinitely more than the other survivors. Deprived of his ship, he becomes a broken man who has lost the very thing that grants him his authority. Yet the captain, through his dedication to guiding the men to safety, retains a degree of dignity to go with the ineffable sense of loss he feels at having failed in his charge. In this sense, the captain is at once a majestic and tragic figure, one who has not measured up to the standards he has set for himself but continues to fight for his fellow men. His quiet, steady efforts in the boat are not self-motivated and afford him no personal redemption. Instead, his actions are directed toward the others.