Joseph Conrad, one of the English language's greatest stylists, was born Teodor Josef Konrad Nalecz Korzenikowski in Podolia, a province of the Polish Ukraine. Poland had been a Roman Catholic kingdom since 1024, but was invaded, partitioned, and repartitioned throughout the late eighteenth-century by Russia, Prussia, and Austria. At the time of Conrad's birth (December 3, 1857), Poland was one-third of its size before being divided between the three great powers; despite the efforts of nationalists such as Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who led an unsuccessful uprising in 1795, Poland was controlled by other nations and struggled for independence. When Conrad was born, Russia effectively controlled Poland.
Conrad's childhood was largely affected by his homeland's struggle for independence. His father, Apollo Korzeniowski, belonged to the szlachta, a hereditary social class comprised of members of the landed gentry; he despised the Russian oppression of his native land. At the time of Conrad's birth, Apollo's land had been seized by the Russian government because of his participation in past uprisings. He and one of Conrad's maternal uncles, Stefan Bobrowski, helped plan an uprising against Russian rule in 1863. Other members of Conrad's family showed similar patriotic convictions: Kazimirez Bobrowski, another maternal uncle, resigned his commission in the army (controlled by Russia) and was imprisoned, while Robert and Hilary Korzeniowski, two fraternal uncles, also assisted in planning the aforementioned rebellion. (Robert died in 1863 and Hilary was imprisoned and exiled.) All of this political turmoil would prove to be predictably disturbing to young Josef, who could only stand idly by as he watched his family embroiled in such dangerous controversy.
Conrad's father was also a writer and translator, who composed political tracts, poetry, and satirical plays. His public urgings for Polish freedom, however, eventually caused Russian authorities to arrest and imprison him in 1861; in 1862, his wife (Conrad's mother), Eva, was also arrested and charged with assisting her husband in his anti-Russian activities. The two were sentenced to exile in Vologda, a town in northern Russia. Their exile was a hard and bitter one: Eva died of tuberculosis in 1865 and Apollo died of the same disease in 1869. Conrad, now only twelve years old, was naturally devastated; his own physical health deteriorated and he suffered from a number of lung inflammations and epileptic seizures. His poor health would become a recurring problem throughout the remainder of his life. Poland did not gain independence until 1919, and although patriots such as Apollo were instrumental in this eventual success, their martyrdom left many children (such as Conrad) without parents or hope for their future.
The Call of the Sea
After his father's death, Conrad was returned to Krakow, Poland where he became a ward of his maternal uncle, Thaddeus Bobrowski. His uncle sent Conrad to school in Krakow and then to Geneva under the guidance of a private tutor. However, Conrad was a poor student; Despite his having studied Greek, Latin, mathematics, and (of course) geography, he never completed the formal courses of study that he was expected to finish. His apathy toward formal education was counterbalanced by the reading he did on his own: During his early teenage years, Conrad read a great deal, particularly translations Charles Dickens' novels and Captain Frederick Marryat, an English novelist who wrote popular adventure yarns about life at sea. (He also read widely in French.)
Marryat's novels may have been partly responsible for the sixteen-year-old Conrad's desire to go to sea and travel the world as a merchant marine (an exotic wish for a boy who grew up in a land-locked country); in 1874, his uncle reluctantly granted him permission to leave Poland and travel, by train, to the French port city of Marseille to join the French Merchant Navy. After his arrival, Conrad made three voyages to the West Indies between 1875 and 1878; During this time, he smuggled guns for the Carlists, who were trying to put Carlos de Bourbon on the throne of Spain. In 1878, Conrad suffered from depression, caused in part by gambling debts and his being forbidden to work on any French ships due to his lying about having the proper permits. He made an unsuccessful attempt at suicide, shooting himself through the shoulder and missing his vital organs. (Biographers differ in their interpretations of this attempt: Some contend that Conrad was depressed about his squandering all his money, while others report that the attempt was a ruse designed to put Conrad out of work and thus escape the grasp of creditors.) Later that year, Conrad boarded an English ship that took him to the eastern port-town of Lowestoft; there, he joined the crew of a ship that made six voyages between Lowestoft and Newcastle. During this time, he learned English. Conrad's determination to succeed as a seaman was impressive: Although he began his career as a common sailor, by 1886 he had sailed to the Asia and was made master of his own ship. He then became a British subject and changed his name to Joseph Conrad (partly to avoid having to return to Poland and serve in the Russian military).
In 1888, Conrad received his first command of the Otago, a ship harboring in Bangkok whose master had died. Surprisingly, Conrad hated the day-to-day life of a sailor and never owned a boat after becoming famous; The sea, however, offered Conrad the opportunity to make a living. One of Conrad's most important voyages occurred in 1890, when he sailed a steamboat up the Congo River in central Africa. Conrad was attracted to this region partly because of the adventure he thought it could offer him and (perhaps more importantly) because working in the Congo could earn him some much-needed money. During this voyage, Conrad witnessed incredible barbarity, illness, and inhumanity; his recollections of this trip would eventually become the basis of his most famous work, Heart of Darkness. During this time, Conrad was considering turning his seafaring adventures into novels, and he eventually publishedAlmayer's Folly, which he had been composing during the early 1890s in 1895. The success of his first novel lured him away from the sea to his new adventures as an English novelist. He settled in England, married Jessie George (in 1896), and began the career for which the world would remember him best.
From Sailor to Author
After the publication of Almayer's Folly, Conrad began producing a number of books in rapid succession, many of which featured plots about sailors and travel to explore moral ambiguity and the nature of human identity. The Nigger of the "Narcissus" (1897) concerns a tubercular Black sailor whose impending death affects his fellow crewmen in a number of profound ways. Lord Jim (1900) examines the effects of a cowardly act and how this act's moral repercussions haunt a man until his death. (Lord Jim's story is told by Marlow, the narrator of Heart of Darkness.) In 1902, Conrad published Heart of Darkness, a short novel detailing Marlow's journey into the Belgian Congo — and the metaphorical "heart of darkness" of man. All three books were highly regarded in their time and are still widely read and studied today. In 1904, Nostromo was published; the complex tale of an imaginary South American republic. The effects of greed and foreign exploitation helped to define Conrad's oblique and sometimes difficult narrative style. Although he produced a large body of work, Conrad was often a slow writer who felt the pressure of deadlines and the need to keep writing to keep his family financially solvent. His struggles were eased, however, in 1910, when John Quinn, an American lawyer, bought all of Conrad's manuscripts and awarded him a small pension.
Conrad continued writing tales of travel, but also turned his attention to novels of political intrigue. The Secret Agent (1907) concerns a group of anarchists who plan to blow up the Greenwich Observatory;Under Western Eyes (1911), set in nineteenth-century Czarist Russia, follows the life of a student who betrays his friend — the assassin of a government official — to the authorities. His story "The Secret Sharer" (1912) uses the "Doppelganger theme" (where a man meets his figurative double) to examine what Conrad viewed as the shifting nature of human identity and the essential isolation of all human beings. In 1913, Chance was a great success both critically and financially; the novel, like Heart of Darkness, explores the ways in which an innocent person (like Marlow) becomes hardened by the horrors that surround her. Other novels marked by these essential Conradian themes include The Inheritors(cowritten with Ford Maddox Ford, 1901), Victory (1915), and The Shadow-Line (1917). Conrad alsoturned to autobiography: The Mirror of the Sea (1906), A Personal Record (1912), and Notes on Life and Letters (1921). All treat his seafaring days and development as an artist.
Conrad died of heart failure on August 3, 1924. He was buried in Canterbury Cemetery and survived by his wife and sons (Borys and John). Still honored by millions of readers as one of the greatest modern writers, Conrad left behind a large body of work whose nature he defined (in his Preface to The Nigger of the "Narcissus") as "a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect."
An allegory is a work of art in which characters and events take on metaphorical or symbolic meanings that are deliberately cultivated by the artist. The most famous literary allegory in English is John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (1678), where symbolic characters (with names such as Christian, Evangelist, and Faithful) move through a symbolic plot (part of which, for example, involves their fleeing the City of Destruction) to arrive at the Celestial City eventually. Bunyan's allegory is clear and straightforward: Any person who wishes to reach Heaven must remain pure despite all of the hardships and tests he will face. Another widely known allegory is Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen (1590) in which different knights represent different virtues, such as holiness, temperance, and chastity. Because of their accessibility and moral teachings, allegories have been popular with readers since the beginnings of English literature.
While "The Secret Sharer" may not seem as obviously allegorical as the aforementioned works, it can nonetheless be read as an allegorical examination of a timid man becoming more daring and therefore, more complete. The primary allegorical element in the story is its plot: As the Captain journeys through the Gulf of Siam and eventually to within the shadow of Koh-ring, he also undertakes a metaphorical journey within himself. Just as a traveler is in a different place literally at the end of a journey, so the Captain is in a different emotional "place" as he watches Leggatt swim to shore.
Conrad's depiction of the Captain also invites the reader to consider the story's other allegorical implications. For example, the young and inexperienced Captain wants to behave in a resolute and forthright manner, but he lacks the courage and sense of command that would enable him to do so. Conrad's making the Captain the newly appointed commander of a ship on foreign seas evokes those situations in every person's life when he or she is called upon to show courage and steadfastness, but feels out of place and uncomfortable with such demands.
Leggatt's appearance changes all this. In terms of the allegory, Leggatt is like the scorpion that smuggled its way into the Chief Mate's inkwell: sly, inexplicable, and potentially deadly. The fact that Leggatt killed a man — however accidentally or unintentionally — suggests his symbolic position as the more brutal, impulsive part of the human psyche. His initial nudity suggests his symbolically elemental essence in all of us: He is naked because he represents the human soul "stripped down" to its essentials without being "disguised" in any guise. When the Captain offers Leggatt one of his sleeping suits, the allegorical implications are unmistakable: Leggatt is — symbolically — a part of the Captain that readers see at the end of his "voyage."
Another piece of clothing that holds allegorical significance is the Captain's hat, which he gives to Leggatt before allowing him to escape the ship and swim to Koh-ring's shores. The last third of the story, when the Captain maneuvers the ship next to Koh-ring, repeatedly depicts the island as a symbol of death, looming over the Captain and his (understandably) terrified crew. However, to grow as a person (so Conrad's allegory goes), the Captain must experience a "brush with death" to test his newfound confidence. If not for Leggatt's losing the Captain's hat, which the Captain then uses to help him steer clear of the shoals, the ship would certainly be destroyed. This clarifies the plot. But in terms of the allegory, the hat suggests something else: Despite his having been assisted by Leggatt in finding his confidence and bravery, ultimately, the Captain himself is responsible for his transformation — a proposition that accords with the notion of Leggatt symbolically representing a part of the Captain's personality. Thus, the Captain's own hat saves his ship because it is the Captain himself who grows as a person and is responsible for his own change.
The Skipper of the Sephora enters the allegorical equation as well. As Leggatt symbolically represents the more passionate and dangerous side of man, the Skipper represents a side even more timid than the Captain at the beginning of the story. For example, he refuses to take a stand to help Leggatt, despite that the man Leggatt killed was an insolent sailor who could have cost all the men their lives and despite the fact that Leggatt killed the man accidentally. Thus, Conrad begins "The Secret Sharer" with the Captain being offered two extreme modes of behavior: Leggatt's and the Skipper's. The Captain encounters each one physically and emotionally, but by the end of the story, he has completed his allegorical journey through the symbolic shadow of death and looks forward, as does his symbolic counterpart, to a "new destiny."
Finally, the story's title reflects its overall allegory of growth and change. The Captain conceals Leggatt because — like many people — he tries to stifle and keep down the more physical and dangerous part of himself. He would rather possess a façade of cool control than fall prey to his own violent impulses. However, the story suggests that there are times in a person's life when he must call upon his "Leggatt" side to complete a dangerous task or prove himself worthy of his hire. We are all "secret sharers" of our darker selves, but we all keep them in reserve for use in dire situations.
1. Trace how the Captain's character changes by concealing Leggatt.
2. Discuss Conrad's use of the doppelganger theme in "The Secret Sharer."
3. Describe the allegorical meaning of the story.
4. Explain how "The Secret Sharer" treats the theme of knowledge. What, for example, are some of the different kinds of knowledge learned by the characters?
"The Secret Sharer" was published in 1910, and the story is based on an actual incident, with some of the facts altered to suit Conrad's artistic purposes: In the 1880s, a mate aboard the Cutty Sark killed an insubordinate sailor during an altercation in which the insubordinate sailor eventually died. Like Leggatt, the killer who escapes punishment and befriends the story's narrator, the murderer escaped his punishment by swimming to a new destiny. Conrad uses the story of a sailor to explore themes of great scope.
The story can also be read as a bildungsroman — a tale of a young man's coming of age, much like Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Charles Dickens's David Copperfield, or James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Examining the story in light of these deeper levels of meaning transforms the work from a typical adventure story to an allegorical work, rich in symbolism.
The Doppelganger Theme
Upon an initial reading, "The Secret Sharer" seems to be an old-fashioned tale of adventure on the sea. The story features a captain, his crew, a mysterious event, a murder, a near-disaster, and the saving of a ship. While "The Secret Sharer" is an adventure yarn, it also stands as a profound and often disquieting examination of every person's dual nature and how each person must resolve this duality for the self to grow. Conrad's use of the doppelganger theme — a character's double or alter-ego — allows him to explore the dual nature of his protagonist, a young yet unsure captain assuming his first command.
"The Secret Sharer" concerns a young captain who assumes the command of his ship only a fortnight before the action of the story begins. Because of this, he is doubtful, untried, and feels himself at the mercy of a crew that while not mutinous or even hostile, slightly undermines the authority that a captain should possess if he is to truly command a ship as he sees fit. Like the skipper of the Sephora (the ship from which Leggatt escaped), the Captain worries over his reputation and the means by which he can preserve it during his first command. Because he lacks the courage and conviction needed to command a ship successfully, he stands as a well-meaning yet weak example of a typical captain. Once Leggatt appears from the depths of the sea — a possible symbol of the Captain's unconscious desire to remedy his own weaknesses — the Captain's personality begins to change.
His discovery of Leggatt changes the Captain in both obvious and subtle ways. Leggatt is, by definition, a killer who murdered an insolent sailor while simultaneously saving the Sephora during a terrible storm. While Leggatt did not intentionally kill the seaman, he is still a powerful and slightly sinister figure. Thus, Leggatt (a renegade from the law) represents the more brutal, irrational side of man, while the Captain represents the more civilized and refined one. Although the Captain thinks that a ship should be run in an orderly and straightforward fashion, Leggatt struck the insolent seaman because he would not assist him in repairing a sail. This is hardly an orderly action to take, but Leggatt felt no regard for rules and regulations when the lives of his fellow sailors were at stake during the storm, and the insolent seaman refused to cooperate in repairing the sail. The Captain, therefore, represents the more rational but timid side of humankind, while Leggatt represents the more irrational but brave side. Together, the Captain and Leggatt make up a perfect commander, and Conrad's story tracks how Leggatt influences the Captain and by doing so, transforms him into the perfect commander.
Conrad's use of the doppelganger theme invites the reader to consider his or her own duality, and to struggle for a balance between the rational and irrational, the timid and bold, the public and private sides of his or her personality. According to "The Secret Sharer," one's personality is created through interacting with others who offer a glimpse into the part of oneself that one assumes he or she lacks, only to discover that it has been lying dormant, waiting to be released.
Appointed to the command of his ship only a fortnight before the story begins, the Captain is a young and inexperienced, sincere yet uninspiring commander who eventually learns to call upon his previously hidden reserves of strength and cunning. In the beginning of the story, his authority is undermined slightly by his sneering second mate. He offers to take the anchor-watch himself to learn about the ship and feel less alienated. Early in the story, he states, "My position was that of the only stranger on board," and, more significantly, "I was somewhat of a stranger to myself." His feeling out-of-place on the ship mirrors his feelings of inadequacy concerning his new command.
After he meets Leggatt, however, the Caption begins behaving in ways that surprise both himself and his crew. He becomes more daring (constantly maneuvering Leggatt to prevent his discovery), more cunning (lying to the Sephora's Skipper about being hard-of-hearing), and more courageous (steering the ship close enough to Koh-ring so that Leggatt can swim to safety). He begins commanding his men in a direct and unapologetic way, and eventually wins their respect by keeping his composure during the episode at Koh-ring. This change in the Captain is what drives the story forward until its end, when he feels "the perfect communion of a seaman with his first command."
The ex-Chief Mate of the Sephora, Leggatt is an impulsive man who acts according to his own sense of justice rather than any formalized regulations that attempt to draw a line between right and wrong. While he did kill a man aboard theSephora, he did so unintentionally after the two became embroiled in a brawl. Because he knows, however, that no judge will spare him the gallows, he decides to escape his confinement on the Sephora and to risk his life searching for a "new destiny."
Conrad draws attention to one of Leggatt's qualities in particular upon his entrance into the story — his physical strength. After being discovered by the Captain (hanging onto the rope ladder), Leggatt informs him that he previously swam to an islet and then to the Captain's ship — a distance of two miles. Conrad's attention to the detail of Leggatt's physical strength reflects his emotional strength as well. Determined never to face an "old fellow in a wig and twelve respectable tradesmen" in court, Leggatt escapes his bondage, fakes his own death, and at the story's end, strikes out for freedom. His strength is inspiring to the Captain, who begins a "secret sharing" of Leggatt's better qualities as the story proceeds
As dusk begins to fall, the unnamed narrator of the story stands on the deck of his ship, currently anchored at the mouth of the Meinam River in the Gulf of Siam. The narrator is the Captain of the ship who leaves the deck to eat supper with his mates. The time is approximately eight o'clock.
At supper, the Captain remarks that he saw the masts of a ship anchored amongst some nearby islands. The Chief Mate explains that the ship to which the Captain is referring is probably another English one, waiting for the right moment to sail home with a favorable tide. The Second Mate elaborates: The ship is the Sephora, from Liverpool, and is bound home from Cardiff with a cargo of coal. (He learned this from the skipper of the tugboat who came aboard to fetch the Captain's letters.)
The Captain makes a magnanimous gesture by offering to take the anchor watch himself until one o'clock, after which time he will get the Second Mate to relieve him. Again alone on deck, the Captain meditatively smokes a cigar and again considers his own "strangeness" to the ship and its command. The rest of the crew sleeps soundly.
The Captain notices that the rope side ladder, hung over the side of the ship to accommodate the skipper of the tugboat, has not been brought in. As he begins to pull it, he feels a jerk at the other end and curious, looks over the rail into the sea. He sees a naked man floating in the water and holding the end of the ladder. The man introduces himself as Leggatt. He has been in the water since nine o'clock, which makes the Captain consider his strength and youth. Leggatt climbs up the ladder and the Captain rushes to his cabin to fetch him some clothes. The Captain learns that Leggatt was the chief mate of the Sephoraand that he accidentally killed a fellow crewman. Although Leggatt unintentionally murdered the man, the Skipper stripped Leggatt of his title. The Captain tells Leggatt that they should retire to his cabin so as not to be discovered by the Chief Mate. The Captain hides Leggatt in his cabin, returns to the deck, summons the Chief Mate to take over the anchor watch, and returns to his cabin.
Leggatt continues his story: After killing the man, he was placed under arrest and kept in his cabin for almost seven weeks. Approximately six weeks into his confinement, Leggatt asked to see the Skipper and asked him to leave his door unlocked that night, while the Sephora sailed through the Sunda Straits, so that he could jump off and swim to the Java coast. The Skipper refused.
Three weeks later, the Sephora came to its present location, and Leggatt discovered that the ship's steward — wholly by accident — had left the door to his cabin unlocked. Leggatt wandered onto the deck and jumped off into the sea. He swam to a nearby islet while the Sephora's crew lowered a boat to search for him. Leggatt removed his clothes and sank them, determined never to return. He swam to another small island, saw the riding light of the Captain's ship, and swam to it. Eventually, he reached the rope ladder, completely exhausted after swimming over a mile. The Captain helps Leggatt into his bed, where he falls asleep immediately. The Captain eventually falls asleep himself; the next morning, the steward enters the Captain's cabin to bring him his morning coffee. (He does not notice Leggatt because the Captain drew the curtains that separate the bed from the rest of the cabin.) The Captain becomes more paranoid that someone will discover Leggatt and decides that he must show himself on deck. The Captain learns that a ship's boat is coming toward their ship. He orders the ladder to be dropped over the side and leaves Leggatt to meet who he is sure will be the Skipper of the Sephora, searching for Leggatt.
When the story begins, Conrad implies that the Captain gained his post through connections rather than by steadily rising through the ranks of his fellow sailors. By the end of the story, however, Leggatt helps the Captain become more assured with his command and more respected by his crew.
The Chief Mate's anecdote about finding a scorpion in his inkwell holds symbolic importance. Like the scorpion, found in the most unlikely of places, Leggatt similarly is found clinging to the rope ladder. Leggatt's crime of murder (although accidental) similarly marks him as dangerous, like a scorpion. Finally, Conrad begins employing color symbolism here: The scorpion drowns in an inkwell, rendering it black when discovered by the Chief Mate, while Leggatt's hair is black, thus strengthening the connection between these two outcasts. Black is the color most associated with evil in Western thinking, and one should note that both the scorpion and Leggatt are stained black: The scorpion literally by the ink and Leggatt figuratively by his crime.
The Captain's desire to take the anchor watch himself stems from his feelings of isolation and alienation. Although he feels "painfully" that he is "doing something unusual" in taking on the watch himself, he does so to learn more about the ship and what he calls "the novel responsibility of command." He enjoys watching the sea because of its "singleness of purpose." The sea, unlike his own command, makes sense to him in its "absolute straightforwardness."
Leggatt's entrance into the story marks him as an almost supernatural force, sent by some higher power to assist the Captain in his struggle to gain the respect of his men and himself. His naked form and his rising from the sea heighten the suggestion that Leggatt has been "created" for the Captain. Again note Conrad's use of symbolism: Water has been widely used as a symbol of the subconscious mind, and nudity is an obvious symbol of feeling metaphorically "exposed" in front of others. Thus, Leggatt symbolically rises out of the Captain's subconscious, because he feels that he is "exposing" his weaknesses as a new commander. Note that when Leggatt first encounters the Captain, he asks, "I suppose your captain's turned in?" Leggatt assumes that the Captain is an ordinary seaman — perfectly understandable under the circumstances, but also a clear indication that there is nothing stately or "captain-like" about the Captain. Also note that the Captain first obliquely denies his position, saying that he is "sure" the captain isn't turned in, before he states, "I am the captain." Again, note that while he is technically the Captain, he lacks the qualities that suggest the substance of a captain, such as fortitude, presence, and strength. Conrad's story is, in part, about the Captain's acquisition of these qualities through the help of Leggatt.
Conrad begins stressing the idea that Leggatt is — in certain important ways — the Captain's double. His use of what is commonly called the doppelganger theme serves to highlight the qualities that the Captain lacks by showing them embodied in his double. Leggatt's being dressed in one of the Captain's sleeping suits and hiding in his cabin suggests their relationship in physical terms; but Conrad suggests their bond in many other ways as well: Both men are young, both hold (or, in Leggatt's case, held) posts of importance that they acquired through their "connections," both are "Conway boys," both are isolated from their respective crews, both save a ship during a dangerous event, and both eventually strike out for "new destinies." Each man offers something to his double: The Captain offers Leggatt a place to hide and his eventual means of escape, while Leggatt forces the Captain, through his assistance in helping him at Koh-ring, a chance to prove his seamanship in the eyes of the crew
The fact that the Captain so readily believes Leggatt's story about his murder of the sailor may mark him as gullible or even foolish in the eyes of some. However, the Captain — although working with a crew — feels isolated from them, and welcomes Leggatt's presence in much the same way that Leggatt welcomes his. Leggatt is, at first, someone the Captain can speak to, and he offers to help him almost as a means of continuing their "secret" relationship. The doppelganger theme usually involves a man meeting what the Captain calls his "other self." In this light, Leggatt is (figuratively) a "part" of the Captain that he doesn't know he possesses. At the story's end, Leggatt has effectively opened the Captain's eyes to the qualities he thought he lacked at the beginning of his command. Thus, the Captain immediately offers to hide Leggatt because, in a symbolic sense, Leggatt is the Captain — or at least the part of him that has been, until now, unexpressed. The Captain's future meeting with the Skipper of the Sephora at the start of Part 2 is one of the first tests of this newly developing part of himself.
Study HelpFull Glossary for The Secret Sharer""
a bark of the dead floating in slowly under the very gate of Erebus a boat leading departed souls to Erebus, the dark place under the earth where the dead pass before entering Hades, according to Greek mythology.
beyond my ken beyond my range of knowledge.
Binnacle the upright, cylindrical stand holding a ship's compass, usually located near the helm.
bo's'n phonetic spelling of "boatswain," a ship's warrant officer or petty officer in charge of the deck crew, the rigging, anchors, boats, and so on.
Bullock a young bull.
Cain in the Bible, the oldest son of Adam and Eve; he killed his brother Abel.
campstool a lightweight, folding stool.
Cardiff seaport in Southeast Wales, on the Bristol Channel; capital of Wales and county seat of South Glamorgan.
Cochin-China historic region and former French colony in Southeast Indochina; the southern part of Vietnam.
Conway boy sailor who trained on the British battleship Conway.
Cuddy the cook's galley on a small ship.
foreyards the lowest yards on the foremast (the mast nearest the bow, or front, of a ship), from which the foresail is set. (A "yard" is a selnder rod or spar, tapering toward the ends and fastened at right angles across a mast to support a sail.)
gimbals a pair of rings pivoted on axes at right angles to each other so that one is free to swing within the other; a ship's compass, pelorus, and so on, will remain horizontal at all times when suspended in gimbals.
Gulf of Siam "Siam" is the old name of Thailand; the Gulf of Siam is the arm of the South China Sea, between the Malay and Indochinese peninsulas.
Halter hangman's noose.
Java Head the westernmost point of Java, a large island of Indonesia, southeast of Sumatra.
Koh-ring the prefix "Koh" connotes an island; the island of Koh-ring is Conrad's creation.
mainyard the lowest yard on the mainmast (the principal mast of a vessel),from which the mainsail is set. (A "yard" is a slender rod or spar, tapering toward the ends and fastened at right angles across a mast to support a sail.)
Malay Archipelago large group of islands between Southeast Asia and Australia, including Indonesia, the Philippines, and sometimes New Guinea.
Mizzen the mast that is third from the bow of a ship with three or more masts. (The "bow" is the front part of a ship.)
Norfolk county of East England, on the North Sea.
the poop on sailing ships, a raised deck at the stern, sometimes forming the roof of a cabin.
Ratlines any of the small, relatively thin pieces of tarred rope that join the shrouds of a ship and serve as the steps of a ladder for climbing the rigging. "Shrouds" are sets of ropes or wires stretched from a ship's side to a masthead to offset lateral strain on the mast.
"She's round" the ship has passed around the land and is clear of danger.
Square the yards by lifts and braces nautical command meaning, "Sail directly before the wind." "Yards" are slender rods or spars, tapering toward the ends and fastened at right angles across a mast to support a sail; "braces" are ropes passed through blocks at the ends of yards, used to swing the yard about from the deck.
Sunda Straits straits running between a group of islands in the Malay Archipelago, consisting of two smaller groups; Greater Sunda Islands (Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, and small nearby islands) andLesser Sunda Islands (Bali and islands stretching east through Timor).
taffrail the rail around the stern of a ship. (The "stern" is the back end of a ship.)
that unplayful cub the second mate; a "cub" is an inexperienced, awkward youth.
What does the Bible say? 'Driven from the face of the earth.' in the story of Cain and Abel, Cain complains he will be "driven from the face of the earth" for the murder of his brother.