The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad presents many themes throughout its complex narration of characters and the ideas it explicates through the novella. Amidst all the many themes that are presented there is one main theme that is thoroughly supported by Conrad in The Secret Sharer. The theme that is supported is, the ability that a person has, to change their moral and ethical beliefs due to their inexperience and self doubt as a leader. In the beginning the Captain is an upstanding, law abiding individual, yet his interaction with the murderer, and Leggatt, reveals him as someone who is insecure and easily malleable, this trait allows the captain to make many very illogical decisions, and in the end put his crew in harms way,
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As the captain broke the news, that he himself was taking anchor watch during the night the second mates replay was, "`what? The captain himself?' Then a few more murmurs, a door closed, then another." (pg 653)The crew does not understand his decision and immediately labels him almost idiotic, showing much suspicion in his actions. This opinion of the captain gives the crew an uneasy feeling around the new leading member of the ship, also causing the captain to obtain even more self doubt, and inevitably causing the irrational decision to stow a murderer on board.
The captains self doubt continues as he reflects upon his actions, and presumably lead up to the letting of Leggatt to board the ship. As the captain recalls his previous decision, he notes what his deck hands may have been thinking, making him even more vulnerable to an experienced sailors knowledge and input, distorting his decision making capabilities. "I asked myself whether it was wise ever to interfere with the established routine of duties even from the kindest of motives. My action might have made me appear eccentric. Goodness only knew how that absurdly whiskered mate would `account' fro my conduct, and what the whole ship thought of that informality of their new captain. I was vexed with myself."(pg 653) This thought and self doubt allows the captain to become preoccupied with his prior decision making. When he is confronted with the new