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The story takes place at sea, near the Gulf of Siam, and is told from the perspective of a young nameless Captain. The captain is unfamiliar with both his ship and his crew, having only joined their company a fortnight earlier. The Captain is furthermore unsure of himself, questioning his ability to fulfill the role of such an authoritative figure. These themes are explored through symbols throughout the novella.
Posted November 30, 2011
Posted July 14, 2011
One reading of 'The Secret Sharer' will absolutely not do justice to the story being told. For, far more important (and to some, myself, for one, interesting) than the literal story of a young captain who comes in contact with and harbors a fugitive sailor is the psychological aspect which may not be noticed on just the first reading.
The Captain (who's only been on the ship for a short while) is faced with the conflict of his youthful passiveness and taking command as a leader. This inner struggle gives way to the birth (or rather, emergence) of his counterpart, Leggatt (in Freudian terms, the representative of the Id.) Throughout the story we see as the Captain struggles with hiding Leggatt from the eyes of anyone, to 'protect him' from being caught and facing punishment. Also noticeable is the decay of the Captains' mental state, to the point where even he questions his sanity.
Left up to the reader to discern is the actuality of Leggatts' presence. However, the evidence piles high for the argument of his being an imagined being. The Captain (whose name, interestingly is never revealed) subconsciously 'creates' Leggatt as an outlet for his worries about his nature itself. Leggatt is the 'physical' manifestation of his Id, which he does not fully understand, but as we see is quite submissive to, almost in an admiring way. The division of his mind leads to his mental instability which gets progressively worse over time. I'm not going to spoil the ending, but the conclusion leaves him a different man from when we were first introduced.
The book is rich with themes, of course there's the psychological, (with the Id, Ego, Superego & the Captains hallucinations) but there's also the themes of isolation, land vs. sea, stepping up to a role and thus maturing and the philosophical question of whether or not there is a right or wrong.
I really enjoyed it.
PS. Read it with Fight Club in mind and you might see a few similarities.
Posted August 24, 2003
this book was okay, i guess, but for a book that's aobut 60 pages long, it took forever!!!! it was good at times, but joseph conrad seemed to go on and on about the surrounds and i wanted to get back to the story. I really liked, however, how he wrote as if the captain and stow-away were twins. i also didn't like how he assumed that we knew everything about ships and all the slang that they used on ships. o well.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 3, 2010
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