the secret sharer

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The Secret Sharer

“The Secret Sharer” by Joseph Conrad shows the struggle between the captain and a man that he thinks is his alter ego. The author shows this throughout the story by allowing the reader to see how much the captain believes he has in common with a man who has snuck aboard during the middle of the night.

The story starts out by informing the reader that this is the captain’s first command on this ship. He does not know his ship or his crew very well. During the night, he takes aboard a man who is hanging from a ladder over the side of the ship. He invites the man onto the ship and gives him one of his own sleeping suits, which happens to be the right size. They begin to whisper about the circumstances in which the man has arrived; he then leads the man to his stateroom unannounced to his crew. In these beginning events of the story one starts to see that the captain does not want his crew to find out about his discovery.

During the first night aboard, the captain begins to really see himself in Leggett. One sees this when the captain is thinking to himself, “I gazed upon my other self for a while before drawing across carefully the two green curtains…” He later goes on to think, “…trying to clear my mind of the confused sensation of being in two places at once.”

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One can tell that the captain does not trust his crew with his discovery of the stowaway. He shows this by hiding Leggett in the bathroom when the steward goes to clean his stateroom. One also sees this when the captain sits down to breakfast and thinks “I was constantly watching myself, my secret self, as dependent on my actions as my own personality sleeping in that bed, behind that door which faced me as I sat at the head of the table.”

Latter one sees that the captain questions the reality of his secret sharer in his stateroom. The steward goes to hang up the captain’s coat in his stateroom and does not discover Leggett. “I asked myself, that he is not visible to other eyes than mine?” The captain thinks to himself.

Towards the end of the story when the captain decides to help Leggett get off the ship and swim to land, he is worried about what he is doing, “I wondered what my double there in the sail locker thought of this commotion.” He also goes on to think, “…my second self was making now ready to slip out and lower himself overboard.” During this time the captain is coming dangerously close to shore. One now sees that Leggett is also thinking of the captain by letting go of a hat, given him by the captain to protect him from the sun, to help the captain find the right current.

One sees thought out this story how a captain with new ship and a new crew was able to bond with a stowaway. He saw this stowaway, Leggett, as himself at a younger age. One also sees the captain as someone who wanted to save Leggett and not turn him in to his former captain. He in turn helped him get to land, almost running his ship aground trying to get closer, and start a new life for himself.

Work Cited

Works of Joseph Conrad Critical Commentary 16-10 by Simon & Schuster, Inc

January 1, 16 http//elibrary.bigchalk.com/libweb/elib/do/document

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