free booknotes online

Help / FAQ




<- Previous Page | First Page | Next Page ->
MonkeyNotes-The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad
Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version

Section 4

Summary

The Captain tells Leggatt a little about himself and his anxieties concerning his role as Captain of the ship. He is a stranger and all his crewmen know is that he is supposed to get the ship home. Leggatt says that he is grateful that he found the ladder where it was at that time of night and was able to come up, but the possibility of being chased by the Sephora still lurks. Suddenly Leggatt looks tired and haggard. The Captain tells him to get into bed and helps him. Leggatt immediately rolls over on his back and flings one arm over his eyes. The Captain looks at him as if it is himself in bed. He then carefully pins the two curtains together to prevent him from being detected and oddly feels as though he is in two places rather than in one.

Suddenly the Captain hears knocking. It is the steward who brings him coffee. The Captain momentarily panics and the steward looks at him oddly then leaves, hooking the door open. Suddenly the steward appears again and asks whether he can close the captain's port. The Captain agrees and then the steward asks whether he can come in to take the empty cup. He allows him and then locks the door when he goes out. Leggatt is still fast asleep. The Captain then decides to go to the deck. He encounters the second mate and chief mate and the steward on the way. The chief mate meets him, touching his cap. There is a curiosity in his eyes, which the Captain does not like. The steward had told him about his "queer" behavior. The Captain delivers an order, the first ever and he stays to watch it executed. They then go for breakfast in the Captain's quarters. The Captain is totally distracted and does not eat anything. He is constantly watching his secret self, sleeping in the bed totally dependent on his actions and his personality. He feels himself going mad and as soon as the two men leave, he shakes Leggatt awake. When Leggatt opens his eyes, the Captain tells him to vanish into the bathroom. He does so noiselessly.

The Captain calls the steward to clean the room. When the steward is about to finish dusting, he sends for the mate and engages him in some insignificant conversation. The idea is to allow him to have a good look at the cabin and then shut the door of the stateroom and get his double back with a clear conscience. The latter sits on a folding stool half-smothered by the heavy coats hanging there. They can distinctly hear the steward going into the bathroom, cleaning, scrubbing and going into the saloon. The double looks so similar that anybody can mistake him for the Captain himself. As the Captain is looking at him, a voice tells him that there is a ship's boat coming their way. The Captain wants to say something to Leggatt but instead goes on deck.


Notes

This part of the story reveals the extremes that the Captain must go to in order to keep Leggatt's presence concealed. It also shows the Captain divulging his own story although it pales in comparison to Leggatt's murder of his shipmate. Still a mutual sharing of secrets has occurred which binds these two men together. Conrad makes the two strangers on the ship face each other in the cabin where they are prevented from speaking as freely with the arrival of dawn and the presence of people on board. Their communication becomes unspoken, one of looks and gestures that are read on each other's face. By the end of the first part, the Captain does not even need to tell Leggatt anything, "What could I tell him that he did not already know?" Both of them observe and are being observed by the other. In this way, they confirm each other's existence.

Leggatt also repeats how he was surprised to discover the ladder down on an anchored ship. This obviously is not protocol and reveals the Captain's inability to keep order on his ship. Although it proved fortuitous for Leggatt, he seems to be suggesting that the Captain needs to take better control of his ship. In fact, in this scene the Captain gives his first order to his crew, a sign of Leggatt's influence on him.

Whenever Conrad speaks of the double, he uses words like "ghostly," "silent" and "gray." These words suggest that he has been etherized, or has a split personality as he often has two distinct impressions at the same time. The action of the plot indicates that Leggatt is savage and instinctual while the Captain is uncertain and indecisive. The Captain's evocative words point to the fact that Leggatt is something other than a human being, that he holds the mystery to the Captain's quest for self-understanding and decisive action.

The tension between the Captain and his crew is exacerbated by the presence of Leggatt. They seem to think his behavior even odder than before and are beginning to lose faith in his mental capabilities.

Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version


<- Previous Page | First Page | Next Page ->
MonkeyNotes-The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad
Google
Web
PinkMonkey

Google
  Web PinkMonkey.com   

All Contents Copyright PinkMonkey.com
All rights reserved. Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.


About Us
 | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page
This page was last updated: 5/9/2017 8:53:28 AM