“The Shipwrecked Sailor” story talks of a sailor who survives the wreckage of his ship. Out of the many crewmembers, there was only one survivor. Luckily, the sailor is washed ashore into an island where he finds refuge. There was food and water on the island which kept the sailor alive. While the sailor was making sacrifice to the gods, sounds alert him and he realized that a serpent was approaching. When the serpent asks who brought the sailor to the island, the sailor could not answer. The two heroes became friends and their friendship lasted till the day another ship saved the sailor. The essay is the analysis of this intriguing story.
Firstly, the idea of the author to write about an enchanted island (Island of the Soul) which rises and sinks with waves overlaps with the oldest plots of the ancient tales. However, in comparison to the ancient works there is an advancement in the use, organization and conception of the serpent’s family. The literary advancement is portrayed by the use of noise and thunder, trees shaking and moving earth on appearance of the serpent. Secondly, the choice of the great serpent, not usual to Egyptians, also marks advancement of the literary skills. The human-headed uraeus is only found in the Ethiopian temple.
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There is also an irony in the fact that the serpent is acting as a positive character. The sailor was wise to be friendly to the ‘Lord of Punt’ to survive the wrath of the unknown. When the sailor promises the serpent that the king will give him gifts, the serpent ironically gives the sailor gifts to take to the king. This might be a manifestation of power when a king sends valuable gifts to another king.
In conclusion, the story “The Shipwrecked Sailor” teaches the readers different lessons which can be interpreted in different ways. On the surface, the story of the survival of a sailor is simple and passes a simple message. The endurance without food and water for several days shows a determination to survive the challenges of life. On another context, the sailor also had a spiritual experience. The journey to a god on an island helped the survivor through the provision of vision, necessary in finding his way back to Egypt.