“Cranes fiction is radically different from that of the realists… To Crane, reality was complex, ambivalent, ambiguous, and elusive, as much a matter of the play of a peculiarity of mind as a quality or character in the object itself. “
“This is a way of saying that Crane’s prose is metaphorical rather than literal and discursive – a way of pointing out the poetic quality of a style. But it also reminder that style is a reflection of his special way of singing, and that these elements in his fiction-his style and vision – are finally one and the same thing,”
“ the hero of the novel, re-creates, through cranes imagination, of course, the external world in whatever image, best expresses or serves his egotistical yearning, hopes, and fierce. In his sentimental self portrait, Henry Fleming sees himself as a hero of nervous courage and reckless, daring – due, winner of the hearts of maidens in the admiration of his comrades in arms. But he also suspects, fearfully, that he is really a coward, and his problem is to refashion the world, as it were, into a new reality “reality, “by which he can justify rationalize his failures as a man or soldier. “. …” his anxiety is really over the uncertain question of his relation to the whole universe, as if he somehow expects nature to be the final arbiter of his success, or failure as a hero.… he never for a moment considers, as does the narrator, the nature is after all simply in different to him.”
For example, in the short story “the open boat, “the correspondent, the main character, reflects upon nature, as seen as a tower, that, “the tower was a giant, standing with its back to the plate of the ants.”
However, “illusion and crane is more permanent than reality, even granting that they can be distinguished.”
James B. Culvert, University of Virginia, Afterword, in Great Short Works of Stephen Crane, 1965, Harper and Roe publishers. New York, New York.