I had time for another Joseph Conrad read, after The rover . This time a short story, named Falk.
Being a short story, we do not have many characters, and the story is focused on one, namely Falk. Everything is depicted through the eyes of another character, a boat captain, who is in the far east, trying to work with commerce, by delivering goods.
In this harbor , he gets friendly with another captain and his family, a German, who is also in the same business. They spend evenings on his boat, drinking, playing, chatting and other things people used to do in the 19th century. The German captain has a very nice and interesting young niece, and our character looks at her with at least curiosity.
We also have Falk, who at start is a very silent and distant man. He is the captain of a tractor boat, the only option that everyone in the harbor has to be hauled out of the harbor, as the sandy and windy entrance is very dangerous for anyone without a strong engine to attempt.
Everything turns bad when our main character is left stranded as Falk skips his turn in being hauled out of the harbor, and instead takes out the German ship.
Our first person story teller begins to investigate what is happening, and his only way out is to convince Falk to haul him out. Eventually he understands that Falk left him out on the bay because he considers him a rival towards the German’s niece, which Falk has a crush on.
Even if he had slight interest in the girl, his business is far more important, and he can’t risk being stranded in the harbor indefinitely. He has to convince Falk that he has no interest in the girl, and more than that, to help him to convince her uncle to allow Falk to get more close to the girl.
We also find out Falk’s greatest secret, the reason why he is so strange and he thinks that he has no hope in life. He was lost at sea for months, on a boat, with a small crew, with no food, no water, which made him do horrible things, including cannibalism, but , he survived. The news of this from Falk’s history was not taken good by the German, who casts him out.
The main character finds somehow a way to convince the German that his sins are not so bad, and they were done just out of pure survival instinct, without any intention, as a sole measure to survive. And overall, it would be a good catch for the niece.
In the end, Falk manages to get close to the girl, who also seems interested in him.
Falk is a short story, which focuses on one character, who has a big secret that is revealed, and we can see how this event affects his life further, and how it unfolds from other people’s perspective.