Detailed Summary of Heart of Darkness

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Detailed Summary of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Chapter I, Part 2:

Marlow, despite being in “partnership” with the company out there, utters: “I’ve seen the devil of violence, and the devil of greed, and the devil of hot desire; but, by all the stars! These were strong, lusty, red-eyed devils, that swayed and drove men-men, I tell you.” Marlow found a multitude of these black men lying in the woods: “They were dying slowly-it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now-nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom.” The only humanly and “vision” like thing he observed was the accountant of the station. He had such elegant and stylish appearance that he looked like a hair dresser’s dummy in that place where everything else was rotting and dying but him.

Marlow stayed there for ten days. The accountant told him of Kurtz, “a first-class agent” in an ivory coast, that “sends in as much ivory as all the others put together”. The accountant added “he will be a somebody in the Administration before long”. This aroused the curiosity to see Kurtz. Later, Marlow is deputed in the deep regions of Congo. During his journey to the farthest places in the African ruins, he finds either sheer destruction or ruins of old colonies of the locals. He is amazed to see that the natives have dispersed somewhere leaving their houses. Perhaps, it is all because of the fear of the invaders that called the natives their enemies. He finds none but sickness that was killing all. During his meeting with the manager, he finds him absolutely plain and unintelligent.

He is appointed just because “he was never ill… He had served three terms of three years out there”. He comes to know that Kurtz is ill. Marlow realizes that Kurtz is known almost everywhere and Marlow grew weary of him. “I felt weary and irritable. Hang Kurtz, I thought”. He also felt nothing except the feverish desire of the white men to loot and plunder: “the word ‘ivory’ rang in the air, was whispered, was sighed”. Marlow could realize that Kurtz was quite important in helping the white rob the black of their precious ivory. “There was an air of plotting about that station… a desire to get appointed to a trading-post where ivory was to be had, so that they could earn percentages.” While waiting for moving to his station, Marlow happens to see a painting “representing a woman, draped and blindfolded, carrying a lighted torch. The background was sombre-almost black.

The movement of the woman was stately, and the effect of the torchlight on the face was sinister.” This enchants him and he asks for the painter and that is none other than Kurtz. It arouses the desire to see Kurtz. He is told that Kurtz is “the chief of the Inner Station”. “He is a prodigy” and “he is chief of the best station, next year he will be assistant-manager, two years more and….” Then Marlow went out of the hut and saw another scene of bestiality i.e. a native was being punished for crossing over to the nearby lands. He could hear the moans of the injured man. Then a man came to him praising the influence Marlow’s relations had got in appointing him.

Marlow tells that he lied then and posed as if he really had certain relations at his back though he had none: “he pleased about the powers that were behind me. I did! And there was nothing behind me!” Then Marlow went to his boat and found the boiler-maker sleeping there. Marlow awoke him and had conversation with him. Later, Marlow reports of the arrival of several instalments of luggage including camp-stools, tin boxes, white cases, brown bales on donkeys brought by white men. Though the transit was often interrupted by the attacks of quarrelsome Negros, yet he ascribes the goods to the loot and plunder of Eldorado Exploring Expedition whose sole aim was “to tear treasure out of the bowels of the land was their desire, with no more moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe.”