The captain has some autobiographical basis in Conrad's early seafaring experience, and the mates of the ship are not unlike those Conrad had met and commanded in his days as a merchant mariner. It has been reasonably argued that Leggatt and the captain form two sides of the same character, the rational and the irrational, each side seeking to be understood by the other. This reading, given Conrad's concern with comparable issues in Razumov and Haldin, is a useful one for those coming to the story for the first time and baffled by its apparent simplicity. It is worth noting that, like many of the characters in Conrad's fiction, both Leggatt and the captain are Conway boys, alumni of the school that produced the Director of Companies in "Youth." Leggatt, as Marlow would say, was "one of us."
(The entire section is 138 words.)
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Captain Archbold is the captain of the Sephora. He is searching for Leggatt, a fugitive sailor who killed a man on the Sephora and is wanted for manslaughter. When Archbold attempts to capture Leggatt aboard the nameless ship, he knows that Leggatt is there, but cannot prove it. It is here that the young captain shows just how shrewd and clever he can be. Archbold acts as a kind of comic relief in the story, illustrating that in some cases, those in charge can be incompetent.
The captain is the nameless leader aboard a nameless ship who befriends the sailor Leggatt. Leggatt has just escaped from another ship and is wanted for manslaughter. The captain is very insecure with being in charge and is unsure of his status on board ship. The crew has been together for some time and the captain, a stranger, despite his official position has not proven himself to the crew. The captain is only 27-years old, a young man to be in charge of men who are older and much more experienced than himself. The captain identifies with Leggatt, and through this identification he achieves a greater self-definition. The exact nature of the connection between the captain and Leggatt, however, is not clear. Leggatt has killed a man and is fleeing to escape punishment, but he may have committed this act in order to save his fellow crewmembers from danger. Through Leggatt, the captain becomes...
(The entire section is 393 words.)