The book, The Secret Sharer was written by Joseph Conrad and was first published in 1911. The secret sharer captures the life of a young sailor, who in his young age became the captain of his ship. With lack of experience and non-conformity with the seas, the young captain, who is the main character and narrator of the story, is at an awkward position.
This situation further reveals the naivety of the narrator as he later is unable to come into terms with one of the riskiest episodes of his leadership on the ship. This story depicts a captain who is alienated from his crew, but at the same time acts with conscious and for the benefit of others. This story further reveals the narrator’s encounter with a fugitive who is accused of murder in another ship.
The narrator, who is now to lead a strange crew that had been together for almost eighteen months finds himself in a rather difficult position because he has to show courage and gain confidence of his crew. For example, the narrator assumes the competency of his crews and their duties in order to build up his reputation “…the ideal conception of won personality…set in secrecy” (Conrad 21).
Indeed, this leaves his crew members astonished by his behavior which had left him with sleepless nights. However, considering the narrators lack of expertise in high seas, it was probably the most ideal thing to do, that is, build up his reputation in an unnoticeable manner. At the same time, the narrator’s character cannot be discredited of mistakes.
It is not a captain’s duty to take control of duties that aren’t his; this will only show his lack of authority and trust over his crew. Another mistake that makes the narrator assumes, is that all ships were alike and men were similar in character, skills and the sea environment had no rules. Surprisingly, the narrator is even suspicious of his egocentric behavior, a behavior that is bended to elevate him into a comfort zone.
This comfort zone later leads to negligence of duties by his crew as their daily routine is interfered with by the captain (Conrad 24). Amid the narrator’s misinformation about captainship, he shows a considerable ounce of humanity by kindly helping a run away murder; Leggatt, from dying in the seas.
Considering the hostility in the seas, not every person can let a stranger abound a ship in the middle of the sea. The narrator seems to get angry at many instances when he deems his crews are becoming more aloof from him. For instance, when the narrator is told to close the door in his cab since there was a cleaning going on upstairs, he gets angry for nothing (Conrad 36).
Although the narrator assumes a conspiracy against him while on the cabin, he is getting afraid and his fear of losing the control of the ship is gripping on him. The narrator incompetence in handling sea activities, are well exhibited when the captain of Sephora; Captain Archbold, sense a bit of strange politeness and lack of interest in what is happening in the sea (Conrad 42).
It is the narrator’s behavior and resemblance with Leggatt that made the captain of Sephora more dissatisfied with the narrator’s answers. But in an ironical twist, the narrator boldness comes into perspective, when he shows the disgruntled captain around the ship eluding all the doubts that the runway murderer is aboard the ship.
In conclusion, the secret sharer above all is crowned by the narrator’s action of taking in a murderer and not selling a soul about it. To be precise, the narrators role as the captain of his ship is at jeopardy due to his overprotective nature of his life, his decks and above all his newly met friend; Leggatt.
In fact, the narrator is ready to force the ship to go to the nearest off-shore to make it easy for the murderer to escape (Conrad 52). The narrator’s behavior can be generalized as that of a young, unknowledgeable captain who is naive about his leadership position.
Considering his responsibility to the crew and the ship, the narrator’s actions are out of order and only exhibit a leader who is not qualified by merit to lead a team of sailors who have been together for more than eighteen months. Such behaviors can only be termed as those of a leader who is driven by self recognition and interests. On the other hand, the narrator’s behavior in trying to rescue a murderer escape can be founded on self preservation from critics and reality.
The narrator, only views Legggatt as his double amid his shortcomings. Instead of letting justice prevail, he would rather see it fail. However, the narrator’s actions of saving Leggatt are profound and uncommon among many high sea sailors. To help the poor lad, the narrator shows a high degree of human kindness for the defenseless and for the unfortunate.
Conrad, Joseph. The Secret Sharer. Charlottesville, Va: EnglishfictionProse, 1911.