Compare and Contrast Essay on Short Stories: The Signal and The Open Boat

Published: 2021-07-12
952 words
4 pages
8 min to read
Harvey Mudd College
Type of paper: 
Literature review
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

In this comparison and contrast task, the short stories used are The Signal and The Open Boat. The Open Boat is a short story by Stephen Crane that presents the audience with the experiences that man undergoes in the hands of nature. Apparently, this narration focuses on the four men who are cruising on the lifeboat after abandoning a sinking steamship in the coast of Florida. On the other hand, The Signal short story which focuses on the tribulations of the Semyon Ivanonv, who is a former fighter in the Russo-Turkish War. Semyon Ivanonv is forced to work as railroad track-walker. It is therefore imperative to explore the similarities and differences between The Signal and The Open Boat to facilitate a deeper understanding of these two texts.

Similarities The Signal and The Open Boat.

In both books, the characters are motivated by survival and resolving of the mysteries they are facing in their endeavors. The characters want to liberate themselves from the tribulations or impending dangers they are undergoing.

Semyon Ivanonv is one of the characters in The Signal. Semyon confesses that he was among the troops who were fighting against the Turks. The war came at the expense of his health. He returned from the battlefield crippled with rheumatism. He returns home only to find out that his father, as well as his four-year-old son, are dead. He faces these challenges alone with his wife, which is depressing, especially when his deteriorating health is put into consideration. It becomes hard for Semyon to cater for his family. It is alleged that it was difficult to plough with rheumatic arms and legs This prompts them to move away from their village to seek a better life in new places. Such experiences indicate that Semyon Ivanonv and his wife are trying to find solutions to the life challenges they are facing.

The journey towards liberation is characterized by obstacles which derail their redemption. Poverty and financial problem is the critical factor hampering efforts by different characters to improve their welfare. For instance, Semyon and his wife move away from their village to the new place in search of a better life. Semyon meets with the stationmaster, who is his former regiment officer helps him secure the job in the railway company as a trackwalker. The working conditions for Semyon does not help with his failing health. He resides in a hut which is ten versts away from the station. When Semyon tries to plant cabbages as a way of complementing his income, the inspector frustrates him to extend of slapping him with a fine of three rubles.

Just like it is the case with The Signal, the characters in The open Boat are also motivated by the urge of saving their lives by overcoming the calamity that has befallen them. The story begins by giving an overview of four men who are stranded after the sinking of their ship prompting them to use a lifeboat to help them navigate the coast of Florida. The sea is turbulent, due to massive waves, making them to experience difficulties in maintaining the boat afloat. Those on board forge a strong brotherhood relationship to enable them to overcome the sea hazards and the long, dangerous journey of reaching the shore.

The destructive and violent nature of the sea remains to be the key obstacle standing in the way of the peoples survival in this short story. The author in The open Boat is highlighting the battle between human beings and nature. After the sinking of their ship, the four men in a lifeboat are seeking for survival by reaching the dry land safely. The Captains focus is to lead his crew members in the lighthouse or any life-saving station. According to the Captain, If this wind stays steady and the boat does not sink, we cant do much else (Crane 3). From, this statement, it is apparent that they are exploring various strategies that can help them overcome the wild nature in the form of high winds and turbulent waves of the ocean. This scenario also points out mens fear towards death.

Differences between The Signal and The Open Boat.

The Signal and The Open Boat. have different settings. Two texts were written under different circumstances as attested by the scope of narration depicted by respective authors. In The Open Boat, the story takes place in the sea as the survivors of the sinking ship utilize a lifeboat to sail along the coast of Florida in January: The January water was icy (Crane 13). On another hand, the setting of The Signal is during the Russo-Turkish War. It is revealed that Semyon Ivanonv, who was a track-walker, took part in the Russo-Turkish War. After returning, he finds that his father and four-year-old son had died.

The Signal and The Open Boat also use different styles of narration (point of view) as opposed to The Signal. In The Open Boat, the author narrates the story using a third-person point of view. With the help of the speaker highlights the thoughts and the fears of the men in the lifeboat. It is apparent characters in both texts face opposition in their efforts to improve their situation: Whereas characters in The Signal face obstacles from fellow human beings (such as the inspector), individuals in The Open Boat are battling with nature (turbulent sea).


The Signal and The Open Boat are two classic short stories that are significant in addressing the importance of literature in exploring human experiences. The two texts are similar when it comes to discussing the strength of people in dealing with adversaries in their lives

Works Cited

Crane, Stephene. "The Open Boat ." (n.d.): 1-15. print .



Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the website, please click below to request its removal: