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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad-Free Summary
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1. Why does the captain protect Leggatt, and why does he bring the ship so close to shore that he nearly runs it aground? Write an essay about the morality, or immorality, of his actions. Your view of Leggatt's character will probably affect your view of the captain's conduct.

2. Examine the many references to the theme of the double in "The Secret Sharer." They're impossible to miss-but what, finally, do they mean?

3. Both the captain and Leggatt feel isolated from their shipboard communities. Examine the theme of isolation in the story.

4. Contrast the differing attitudes of Leggatt, the captain-narrator, and Archbold toward Leggatt's actions on the Sephora during the storm.

5. "The Secret Sharer" is often nerve-rackingly funny; it's even been compared to a Marx Brothers movie. Examine the comic elements.


ALEE - Leeward; the direction toward which the wind is blowing.

HARD ALEE! - All the way leeward

ANCHOR WATCH - The part of the crew, usually one man, who stays on duty at night while the ship is at anchor

BARE POLES - Masts without sails

BINNACLE - The stand on which a ship's compass rests

BREAK (OF THE POOP) - The point where the (poop) deck ends

COMING-TO - Moving the ship's front toward the wind

CUDDY - A small cabin

DEEP SHIP - A ship that sits low in the water

GIMBALS - A device for suspending articles to keep them horizontal despite the motion of the ship

MAINSAIL HAUL! - An order to adjust the mainsail (on the mainmast) so as to head directly into the wind

OVERHAUL - To slacken (a rope)

POOP (DECK) - A raised deck at the stern of a ship

READY ABOUT - An order used in tacking. To come about is to pass from one tack to the other.

REEFED SAIL - A sail whose size has been reduced by folding

RIDING LIGHT - Light shown at night by a ship at anchor

SHE WILL WEATHER - the ship won't go ashore.

SHE WILL NEVER WEATHER - the ship will drift ashore and be grounded.

SHOALS - Shallows

SQUARE THE YARDS BY LIFTS AND BRACES - To set the yards at right angles to the keel and the masts

STAND IN - To take the ship toward the shore

STAYS: IN STAYS - Changing to another tack

STERNWAY - Backward motion of a ship

TACK - The direction a ship is headed in relation to the position of the sails. To tack is to bring the ship into the wind and around to catch the wind from the other side.

TAFFRAIL - The rail at the back of a ship

WAIST - The middle part of the deck

YARD - A rod at right angles to a mast, to support a sail

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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad-Free Book Notes

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