Secret Sharer

Narration and Perspective in The Secret Sharer

Joseph Conrad’s story The Secret Sharer is a first-person account written in two parts from the perspective of an untried sea captain. The separation of the two segments almost perfectly coincides with a distinction in the narrative voice. In the first part of The Secret Sharer the captain is displaced, unassuming and uncalculating. At this point narrative descriptions help to establish situation as they more resemble unattached observations. It is upon the discovery of Leggatt that narration begins to evolve. Due to an unexplained, instantaneous rapport, the captain unquestioningly receives Leggatt’s story and puts him into hiding. At this point paranoia begins and the narrator’s mind admittedly begins to lose structure: “The dual working of my mind distracted me almost to the point of insanity,” admits the captain (Conrad 96).

The narrator’s thought process is more clearly illustrated upon the arrival of the captain of the Sephora in the second part of the story. Narration switches from being generally situational to more personal and inward; for instance, the captain observes that “My lack of excitement, of curiosity, of surprise, of any sort of pronounced interest, began to arouse his distrust” (99). Of course there is no...

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