The Secret Sharer By Joseph Conrad Character Analysis The Skipper of the Sephora

While Leggatt is resolute and self-determined, the Skipper of the Sephora is a weak, doddering man who hides behind the law to appease his conscience. After Leggatt's murder of the insolent sailor, the Skipper pronounces, "Mr., Leggatt, you have killed a man. You can no longer act as chief mate of this ship." This seems to be a reasonable (and necessary) pronouncement, but Conrad reveals another side of the Skipper when he portrays his visit to Leggatt's room. The Skipper looks "sick" and cannot look Leggatt in the face, for he feels ashamed because he is bringing Leggatt to his certain execution despite the fact that he single-handedly saved the Sephora during the storm. Rather than take a moral stand and allow Leggatt to escape, however, the Skipper retreats to the letter of the law. The fact that he tells Leggatt, "I represent the law here" while he is trembling reveals his cowardice and lack of conviction. As Leggatt explains, the Skipper is "afraid of the men, and also of that old second mate of his." The Skipper's weakness is further seen when he attempts to interrogate the Captain about Leggatt in a roundabout way, only to be easily tricked into believing that Leggatt has drowned.

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