The Secret Sharer
“In order to live with direction and an understanding of what is going on around you, one must understand and know what goes on inside himself.”—William Page In Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Sharer”, the Captain of the vessel finds that he does not know himself as well as he thinks. It is not until a castaway, Leggatt, arrives that the captain finally achieves a level of self understanding and completion. Leggatt serves as the Captain’s complimenting double, and his actions and thoughts eventually help the captain learn about himself and create stronger character. As the story opens, the young captain is standing out on the deck looking at the scenery as the ship pulls away. In the distance he notices a ship and on his right, two clumps of trees marking the river's mouth. He notices the “flat shore joined to the stable sea (83).” The captain can scarcely discern where one element of nature begins and another ends. Similarly, at this point he himself is at a faintly discerning line between immaturity and maturity, between landsmen and seamen. He is an outsider according to the skeptical crew and he is a stranger to his ship and himself. At this point, the captain’s lack of confidence in himself as a leader, and his fearful awe of the ship dominate his character. This is illustrated as the captain decides to stand guard over the anchor. While this task is often left to lower ranking officers on the ship, he does not allow any one to do the task but himself. The captain remains because of his overwhelming feeling of inadequacy as leader of the ship. He feels a clear distinction between what he must become and what he currently is. However, the captain is soon given help in finding himself and his place on the ship. While he stands guard, a man appears from the ladder. Leggatt was a persecuted sailor from the nearby ship. He decided to jump in the water and swim to the light he saw (the ship) as opposed to...
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