What are some elements in the story and what do they symbolize? What is the greater meaning?
The boat symbolizes duty, imprisonment and necessity. Usually a boat would symbolize a means of transportation, but in the case of The Boat, it’s to keep those who work on it trapped. In his youth the father’s desire to attend university but this was prevented. Perhaps could be by his parents due to expectation that as an only son he would carry of the fishing tradition. In his later years he is tied to life on a boat due to responsibility and what his wife wanted.
Another example is books, in The Boat the books symbolize education and escaping from the world of imprisonment. The father read books to live a life that he wanted to live, not the one he had. His dreams came alive through the pages of books he read. But for the children and narrator the books they read did the opposite. The books motivated them to leave the village.
I believe the narrator is trying to tell you that you should always do what YOU want to do, and not to do something you don't want to do because somebody else wants you to do it. You don’t want to live a life of imprisonment.
What is the narrator's point of view? How does it change?
In the beginning of The Boat the narrator is portrayed as a sea lover and that is essential to his lifestyle. This changes when the narrator learns that there is more to life than just the sea. He learns this from his father in the way that he used to escape from the reality of his life, books. The father makes comments in the story that indicate that he should pursue his education and follow a different lifestyle. By the end of the story the narrator seems to be depressed. The mother lives alone and “looks upon the sea with love and on you with bitterness”, and the father ends up destroyed by the very thing that controlled his life. And in the future he find himself unhappy with his job and the life he is living.
Who is the protagonist? What do the traits of him/her have to do with the conflict?
The protagonist is the father, he is a fisherman who would have preferred an education rather than the dangerous lifestyle of a fisherman. He is a selfish man. He spends all of his time on the boat, or in his bedroom escaping from reality. He ignores his wife, and any conflict that arises with the daughters, for example, he doesn't help his wife parent their children.The only time he is happy is when he gets to escape the normal which is when he is reading or when he gets the tourist company. He is happy to have the company of the tourists because it is another form of escape, but with social interactions.
The main conflict from The Boat is the fact that the mother and the father have different opinions on how life should be spent. The mother doesn't want her family to escape the life of the sea or meet the outside world and does not believe in education. As the narrator grows up he wants to study but realizes he also has a love for the sea and is torn between the two.
How does the setting affect the story?
The location of The Boat is along the East coast of Canada around the 1940’s. This would suggest that it would be a harsh lifestyle. Waking up early in the morning to go be damp and unhappy all day long on a boat, then returning to your family late in the day. It shows the sadness that the story portrays for you barely get to be with your family or do something you enjoy.