The Secret Sharer Study Guide

The Secret Sharer Study Guide

Original title:
The Secret Sharer

The Secret Sharer is the short story by Joseph Conrad that is considered a true masterpiece of the genre. On its pages the author presents his audience the tension of the adventure novel, the mystic secret of a Gothic novel and the investigation worthy of a detective story.

It tells us about the events in the life of a young captain on his ship, who feels not enough confidence to be accepted by the crew - people older than him who worked together for years. But the problem of acceptance and earning respect becomes secondary, when the captain rescues a drowning man - who seems to be almost a mirror reflection of himself. The captain now has to make a harsh choice: to believe in the story of his mysterious twin and try to save him, hiding the man on a small ship the crew knows every corner of - or to betray the trust of the rescued man and give him away to his pursuers to be executed for something he swears he didn’t do.

Risking everything, from the fragile and hard-earned trust of the crew to their very lives (including his own) may seem reckless and appropriate only for the incompetent and too self-righteous captain. However, what we see in the novel is a metaphorical rite of passage for him. Supporting the mysterious Leggatt, the captain’s twin, is a choice that the protagonist should make, a decision he is ready to take responsibility for. Whatever this decision is, nothing will be the same as before and the crew will either accept the captain as a mature man ready to lead them or consider him a childish lunatic doing whatever he pleases and not thinking about what is right. This short story will not surprise you with sudden plot twists and turns, but the tension built throughout the narration will keep you on your toes to the very last word of the last page.

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