Monday, April 12, 2010

Time Line of Kurtz' trip in Heart of Darkness

Narrator Marlow is telling this story in retrospect:

p. 20 Marlow leaves from Brussels on a French steamer for Africa (carrying soldiers & tax collectors)
Europe is bringing Africa and money people
p. 23  30 days after leaving Belgium approaches mouth of the African river
p. 26  Company Station-- stays there 10 days
finds 3 people:  p. 29 accountant;
simile for accountant: "like a miracle of fastidiousness"  "Looks like a hairdresser's dummy" (mannequin) - nothing inside of him
p. 30 Marlow respects accountant who has pressed clothes; he kept up appearances - he blushed when asked how he kept his linen clean; (indicates he has a sex slave to do it)
p. 32  begins 200 mile trek inland to "Central Station"
p. 33  traveling with lackeys carrying packs
p. 35 arrives at Central Station; meets the manager ( will be there approx. 3 months)
has a genius for uneasiness; smile undercuts everything he says; healthy - no external checks; there is nothing inside of him
p. 45  also meets the brick maker who does not have supplies to make them -paper mache mephistophles -- nothing inside him  (hollow man)

Let's assume that Conrad could have written this clearly if he wanted to.  His style is chaotic to reflect the chaos wreaked on the African by Western Imperialism. He's descending into dark areas. Feeling that he will not be able to escape.  He is losing familiarity; sense of time; sense of normalcy. It's also a psychological journal into Marlow's own heart of darkness. Conrad is manipulating time because his characters are experiencing darker elements.

(p. 28) Grove of Death: 
(p. 31) First mention of Kurtz (means 'short' in German) -  1st class agent; described to Marlow at a remarkable person who's in charge of the trading post in the interior.  

(p. 34) Man wreaked in a hammock - doesn't value life at all - kill someone for me.
Steamer ruined while trying to get to Kurtz at the Inner Station. He finds that his steamship has been sunk and spends several months waiting for parts to repair it. The more he hears about Kurtz who he imagines to be amazing.  The trip becomes about Kurtz. Marlow's job is to transport ivory.  Trading ivory is not illegal at this time. 

Discussion: Does Marlow prefer the light of Western Civilization or the Darkness of Africa?
[no easy answers]
Is he comforted by Africans?Does he hate the 'savages'?
White people are being really dark; black people are the innocent ones?
Conrad refers to the landscape as "hellish"; godforsaken wilderness. On the other hand, civilization described as a tomb.(p. 13 likens civilization to whitened sepulche)

p. 19   Marlow is cynical about being an 'emissary of light' because goal is to completely exploit African resources; exploitation of others is not pretty.  It's the idea only that redeems us---saving the savages?

Modern Day: U.S. eased non-military trade embargo with North Korea and is starting to sell Coca-Cola.
Capitalism going to countries as soon as possible.  Is this a redeeming idea? Is this going to benefit Korea?

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