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Human being in control of his/her fate

I am having trouble explaining how Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat" explains if man is in control of his/her own fate. I do understand the the story is an account of Stephen Crane's real life experience but I am also having difficulty explaining Americans in particular.

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Man's relationship with nature has undergone a tremendous shift over the millennia. In pre-historic times man lived at the mercy of nature. A simple tooth infection could kill him. A flash flood, drought or marauding group of nomads could destroy all he held dear and had accumulated over the course of his life. His wife might die in child birth, his child might die of a scorpion sting, snake bite or from an unknown illness. As man has accumulated knowledge in areas such as science, medicine, architecture, animal husbandry and geography he has been able to understand and manipulate the natural world around him. In doing so he has begun to believe that he is in fact the master of nature rather than a product of it.

Stephen Crane's story, The Open Boat, is written in the late 1800's. By this time ...

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The expert examines human being in control of his and her fate.