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."
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