jueves, 3 de mayo de 2012


At the Central Station, continued. What does Marlow learn by overhearing the manager and his uncle? What do they say about Kurtz and what is happening upriver? How does Marlow respond to this talk about Kurtz? What views did Kurtz hold about the nature of the colonial project?

By eavesdropping, Marlow learns that the manager and his uncle are complaining about Kurtz.  The manager states that Kurtz wants to take over the position of manager with plans of improving the stations in order to have them be more humanized and morally fit. The manager also recalled that Kurtz sent a great amount of high quality ivory with his clerk, but Kurtz surprisingly returned back to his station after travelling for about 300 miles down the river. The clerk brought a letter with him, in which Kurtz instructed the manager to stop sending useless men to work with him. Moreover, the clerk said that Kurtz was very sick and that he was not yet in good health conditions.  As Marlow continued to listen to their conversation, he heard that they were later talking about another man, a trader, which both the manager and the uncle agreed that he should be hanged because the manager did not want anybody to challenge his authority. Thus, the manager’s uncle stated that there was no need to worry because the climate and the wilderness were going to take care of any trouble for him; suggesting that Kurtz could occasionally die of tropical disease. The conspiracy between the two men alarmed Marlow, making him unexpectedly leap to his feet, which made him noticeable to the two men who just ignored his presence and walked away.

At the end, the thing that bothered the manager and his uncle the most was Kurtz’s colonial project, which consisted on humanizing each station in order for them to be a light and a path toward civilization as well as successful trading posts that would eventually become centers for civilizing and teaching. The Manager and his uncle mocked this idea and completely opposed it. On the other hand, Marlow was drawn into finding more about this mysterious guy, Kurtz, who visibly makes Marlow confused and wordless.
What happens to the Eldorado Exploring Expedition and how does Marlow respond?

The Eldorado Expedition which was led by the manager’s uncle disappeared into the wilderness, they were swallowed by it. Marlow stated that the donkeys died, but that he did not know what happened to the “less valuable animals”, who like the rest of them “found what they deserved”.  These “less valuable animals” are the white men. This demonstrates a lot about Marlow’s character. He compares white men to invaluable animals, who had this kind of cruel destiny coming as a result of their bad behavior in the Congo. Additionally, the Eldorado Expedition’s fate also seemed to be insignificant when it came to larger catastrophes according to Marlow.

The Journey Up the River (105 -on). How does Marlow describe the river? Why does this cause him to insult his companions on the boat in the Thames and thus to create another break in the narrative? How does Marlow go on to describe the journey as "we penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness" (108)?

For Marlow going up the river and deeper into the unknown was like travelling back in time, back to the primitive ways and full of threatened disasters, which never occur due to Marlow’s navigation skills. He makes a strange description about his trip up the river because he felt that being in the unknown was being lost and being cursed to wander it forever and being forbidden from everything he once knew in their previous life. The river and its surrounding reminded him of his life prior to this journey, but he merely saw this as just a dream. Moreover, the stillness of the wild made him feel uneasy because he did not know what was lying in the unknown. He had to be careful not to sink the boat, because he thought that the unknown was watching him back, waiting for him to fail.

Furthermore, in Marlow’s voyage, some savages, the cannibals, were enlisted to serve him on the ship. They seemed to be “fine fellows” to him, and no different from any other white man. They were not inhuman for him any longer, as well. These people were human beings that should be easily understood by other human beings since at the end the savages are distant relatives who are capable of everything and therefore should be comprehended. This is why Marlow insults his companions, he describes them as “fools” who laugh and mistreat the natives, simply because they fear these wild individuals. After all, every human being is drawn to the wilderness and savagery, too. Marlow also said that the fireman who managed the boiler was as efficient as an ignorant and poor educated European doing the same job. In the ship the natives even seemed to be better workers and crewmen than the white lazy men! Due to these realizations, Marlow isolated himself from the manager and the rest of the pilgrims because he considered the natives as his own kind now.

As he penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness, Marlow stated that his journey was in a pre-historic world in which he heard the sound of drums far away. There is also stillness and silence, which lead to making him feel restlessly watched over in some way. Overall, the ship travels along a treacherous river through a world of plots, mysteries and unreachable black faces. Marlow can no longer penetrate Africa or Europe, due to his confusion. The only thing that is “real” for Marlow and that made him eager to go up river, is encountering Kurtz.
Approaching the Inner Station (110). What does Marlow find when the boat stops for wood? What is the value of the book, according to Marlow? What does he find written in it?

When the boat stops for wood, Marlow finds an unexpected stacked wood-pile with a note that stated “Wood for you. Hurry up. Approach cautiously” alongside an illegible signature. According to the manager the Russian trader left this behind. This note is a warning, but Marlow did not know for what exactly. In addition, Marlow found an old book. The old book Marlow finds inside the hut is a 60 year old book on seamanship called “An Inquiry into Some Points of Seamanship”, by naval officer Towser or Towson. It looked boring and was filled with tables and charts. It was probably written by someone dedicated to his work. It was a book with a vital purpose, which made Marlow feel he had came into something real. The book also had notes on the margin that appeared to be codes for Marlow. This was a complete mystery for him!

What happens the next morning in the fog? How does Marlow describe the cry (113)? How do the responses of the whites and the blacks differ? How does the head-man of the African crew respond? Look closely at how Marlow responds to the idea that the Africans are hungry? What attribute does he find in the Africans that he does not find in the whites?

The morning of the fog started out as a tranquil morning until a loud and desolated cry was heard followed by the sounds of native people talking to each other. To Marlow it seemed as though the mist had suddenly screamed from everywhere all at once. The whites were discomposed, shaken and painfully shocked by the outrageous noises. On the other hand, the black men were alert and really calmed. Two of the black men were even grinning as they prepared the chain. The head-man of the African crew tells Marlow that he and his people want to catch and kill the owners of the voices in the fog. To his surprise, Marlow did not seem horrified, instead he felt comprehensive. Marlow realized that the cannibals must have felt terribly hungry given that they were not allowed to go ashore for supplies for a long time, and the hippo meat, their only food, was already thrown overboard by the pilgrims since it was rotting. At the end, Marlow finds that the natives have something the whites do not have, restraint, because even though they are really hungry, the natives have not been manipulated by their impulses and have indeed not attacked any of the white men in order to satisfy their desire for human meat.

What is the effect of having Marlow say "The approach to this Kurtz [. . .] was beset by as many dangers as though he had been an enchanted princess sleeping in a fabulous castle"?

Marlow now realizes the many dangers there are in approaching Kurtz because it is as though Kurtz is a princess protected in a magic castle instead of a man who collects ivory in the bush. As a result, this shows that Marlow contemplates Kurtz as an object of interest which provides him with a distraction of the dangerous surroundings he faces at the moment. Marlow is very intrigued and fascinated about Kurtz because he gives him a sense of possibility in some way even though he has faced a lot of hazards in his journey and is about to face more. Nevertheless, at the end Kurtz could be nothing like the legends that surround him.

What happens as the boat approaches the inner station (120)? How do the pilgrims respond to the attack? What does the helmsman do and what is the result?

As the boat approaches the inner station, Marlow and his men were attacked by some savages that where at the shore. They were shot at with arrows. To defend themselves, the pilgrims opened fire with riffles below Marlow, and they produced a cloud of smoke with their attack that obscured Marlow’s sight. The fool African helmsman left the wheel and started to shoot out a shutter-hole with a one-shot rifle. While doing so, the helmsman was also yelling at the attackers on the shore. As a result, the helmsman was shot with a spear that passed through his body and created a grave wound that made him lose a lot of blood and eventually caused his death. To frighten the aggressors and stop the attack, Marlow had to blow the steam whistle many times.
Kurtz Interlude (123-130). Why is Marlow so disappointed by the idea that Kurtz is dead? What things come to his mind as he thinks of meeting Kurtz and what followed? Pay special attention to the "girl" and the "lie" for future reference. What did Kurtz look like? What is meant by his reference to "My Intended"? What seems to be going on in Marlow's statement that "The wilderness [. . .] had [. . .] sealed his soul to its own by the inconceivable ceremonies of some devilish initiation"? What sort of picture of Kurtz do we get from this interlude on him? Why is Marlow so bothered by Kurtz?

Marlow is disappointed at the idea that Kurtz may be dead because he is intrigued and fascinated by this man. He even feels disgusted at the idea that he travelled thousands of miles by steamboat for nothing, given that he hoped at the end of this voyage to meet Kurtz. This was the sole purpose of his journey. In his mind, Marlow imagined how Kurtz’s voice may be, because after all the gift of this man was his ability to talk. So Kurtz was nothing more than a voice in Marlow’s head. Marlow also thought about ignoring the negative comments that other people said because of their jealousy towards Kurtz, and just focused on the fact that it would be enlightening to hear Kurtz talk. Moreover, Marlow felt sorrow and lonely desolation because his “destiny in life” was to be robbed from him if Kurtz happened to be dead.

Moreover, Mr. Kurtz looked like a disinterred body, a corpse, who had a bald head. “My Intended” is Kurtz’s fiancé waiting for him back in Europe. Kurtz called her like this because she is his “beloved”. However, “My Intended” also means that for him the ivory, the station, the river and everything else belonged to him. Marlow found this to be very disturbing, since it was a dark mastery.

“The wilderness had patted him on the head, and, behold, it was like a ball -- an ivory ball; it had caressed him, and -- lo! -- he had withered; it had taken him, loved him, embraced him, got into his veins, consumed his flesh, and sealed his soul to its own by the inconceivable ceremonies of some devilish initiation.”

This statement means that the wilderness embraced him. Kurtz’s soul was now married to the jungle because he was consumed by the ivory fever. Ivory is Kurtz’s only companion given that he has no friends, just followers in his conquest of the ivory. After all, ivory increases the good reputation and the wealth of the people who acquire it. However, due to the things it provides, it raises hate and competition. Thus, it destroys a man morally because greed conquers him. So in this particular passage, it is stressed how both venerated and hated Kurtz is for many. He subdued many people in his conquest for ivory, but at the same time he was subdued by his greed for ivory. Hence, according to Marlow, Kurtz was a devil because the dark powers had taken possession of him due to the lack of civilization around to control him. Additionally, Kurtz was technically a ghost when Marlow and his crew found him, but Marlow at least got the chance to speak with him.

What is the report and what does Marlow think of it? What is the argument of the report? How is the report modified by the handwritten statement at the end? What sort of dancing is Marlow talking about? What have we learned about Kurtz so far? Why does Marlow also think again about the dead helmsman?

The International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs made Kurtz responsible of writing a report. This was an eloquent and influential report seventeen pages long. At first, Marlow found this to be enthusiastic, magnificent and appealing because of the altruistic sentiment it had. In general, the main idea of the writing was to ‘civilize” the natives in order to “exert a power of good”. Nevertheless, this idea is contradicted with the last statement “Exterminate all the brutes!”.  This made Marlow think it was a consequence of Kurtz’s absorption into the wild life of the natives because it was “luminous and terrifying”. Thus, Marlow states that he feels that he is responsible of “the care of his memory” because Kurtz was not common and did not deserve to be forgotten even though he was crazy at the end.
In addition, the sort of dancing Marlow talks about is “an aggravated witch-dance in his honor”. By this he meant that Kurtz could make his followers or “rudimentary souls” do terrible things, “witch-dance”, and make his enemies feel consumed by bitterness, “fill the small souls of the pilgrims with bitter misgivings”. Certainly, Kurtz had gained a position of power within the native world by now. Therefore, Marlow now doubts whether it was worth to have many lives lost like that of the helmsman, and his overall journey. Marlow strangely missed his helmsman because he was his partner and the man he looked after. Marlow also stated that if the helmsman would have had restraint and not try to fire at the attackers on the riverbank he would still be alive. He also talks about when he threw the corpse of the dead helmsman overboard. The pilgrims thought this was a scandal because he needed a proper burial, whereas the cannibals thought it was the loss of a delicious meal. So the dead helmsman was spared from becoming food for the cannibals and from the hypocrisy of the pilgrims.

What does Marlow see as he looks at the inner station through his binoculars? Keep this description in mind.

Through his binoculars he saw a hill that had rare trees spread all over the place and was free of undergrowth. At the top, there was a decaying building with holes on the roof and surrounded by grass. On the back of this, there was the jungle and the woods. There was no fence, even though one used to stand there due to the posts positioned in a line in front, and tapped with ornamental carvings on top, that had the shape of balls. The rails between the posts had vanished. The forest surrounded the clearing, as well. Moreover, a white man waving his arm crazily was on the riverbank and Marlow could also see human movements in the forest behind this man.

Who is the first person Marlow meets? Why is he describes as "a harlequin"?. Is this the sort of person we (or Marlow) would expect to meet here?

The first person that Marlow meets is the Russian trader who looked like a “harlequin” because of his clothes which were patched all over. The patches were of different colors, and the overall patching was actually beautifully done. This Russian trader also looked very young with his boyish beardless face and blue eyes. Honestly, this is not the sort of person we or Marlow would expect to meet here due to his young age and gaudy appearance. It is weird to think about a young man like him travelling around the river for nearly two years by himself as well.

Why, according to the Russian, did the natives attack the boat? What does he think of Kurtz?

According to the Russian, the natives meant no harm. They attacked because they do not want Kurtz to leave. Therefore, he tells Marlow to use the boat’s whistle in defense just in case of another attack, in order to scare the natives off.  The Russian also talks about how Kurtz has “enlarged” his mind, and that one should listen to what Kurtz says instead of talking to him. As a result, the Russian trader has offered an enigmatic picture of Kurtz.

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