"Seeing this magnificent, enchanting sky, the ocean frowns at first, but soon itself takes on such tender, joyful, passionate colors as human tongue can hardly name." (Pevear & Volokhonsky trans.)
When Gusev dies we follow his body as it is sewn up in canvas and he "comes to resemble a carrot or a black radish" (Virginia Woolf liked this line too). The other soldiers prepare to throw him into the waves. "Can it really happen to anyone?" the story asks. Gusev is borne down by the current, but as he descends he "sways rhythmically, as if pondering, and, borne by the current, drifts more quickly sideways than down." He meets some pilot fish and a shark. Both are cruel, but we don't judge them for it the way we judged the men on the ship. It is simply their nature. Above, the sky puts on a show: "one cloud resembles a triumphal arch, another a lion, a third a pair of scissors... A broad green shaft comes from behind the clouds and stretches to the very middle of the sky..." And just like me, the ocean is skeptical at first, "frowns," "but soon itself takes on such tender, joyful, passionate colors as human tongue can hardly name."