Since the Secret Sharer is such a short novel, it seems like almost every little detail has some amount of importance. Early in the novel, the chief mate finds a "miserable scorpion"(2 maybe?). It seems that this scorpion is used as Leggatt's literary double. For instance, the scorpion was found mysteriously in the most unlikely of places (It would have been more partial to a dark place). Laggatt similarly is found clinging to the rope ladder. Leggatt’s crime of murder, even though it may be accidental, marks him as dangerous, like a scorpion. Finally the scorpion drowns in an inkwell, rendering it black when discovered by the Chief Mate. Leggatt’s hair is also black. This may seem like a stretch, but is helpful to remember the theme of light and dark in the novel, and it seems more than coincidence that both the scorpion and Leggatt are stained black: The scorpion literally by the ink and Leggatt figuratively by his crime. Also, note that the scorpion ended its life by jumping into the black ink. When Laggatt is ready to try to swim to the island of Koh-ring, both the island and the water are described as "black" on several pages. He calls it "a great black mass brooding over our very mastheads." Does this passage about the scorpion show that Leggatt died, or is it just there to show the chief mate's reaction to the unknown and unfamiliar?
On the last page, very near the end, the captain refers to Koh-ring as a "towering black mass like the very gates of Erebus." This is meaningless if one doesn’t know who Erebus is, so i did some research. According to Encyclopedia Mythica, Erebus was known as the embodiment of primordial darkness, and the gate of Erebus was a gate that the dead would have to pass shortly after they have died. The "gate of everlasting night" in the words of the captain. The color black and the motif of darkness clearly are symbols of evil. The dangerous scorpion dies completely surrounded in blackness, and as i see it, so does Laggatt. After all, he wasn’t able to hold onto the captains white hat (maybe the last shreds of goodness that Leggatt was in possession of).
So, what do you think, does the scorpion show that Laggatt is dead, or is it just an example of how much the chief mate would freak if he found Laggatt as a stowaway.
(I couldn’t provide the most accurate citations on page numbers because I accidentally grabbed Mr. H's book on the way out of class--I thought it was mine--and returned it. But that means that now my book is missing. I found a copy of the Secret Sharer on the Internet, but it doesn’t have page numbers.)