Detailed Summary of Heart of Darkness

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Detailed Summary:Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Chapter III, Part II

She came near them but did not enter the boat. Everybody was afraid and terrified of her presence. Soon she moved away from the boat and was lost into the wilderness. From inside the cabin, the voice of Kurtz could be heard: “Save me!-save the ivory, you mean. Don’t tell me. Save me! Why, I’ve had to save you. You are interrupting my plans now… I will return. I….” Just then the manager came to Marlow to tell him of his plans. He also affirmed that they have done what they could do for Kurtz: “We have done all we could for him-haven’t we?” The manager wanted Marlow to believe that Kurtz had “done more harm than good to the Company”. The manager also told him that the brick maker guy will help Marlow prepare a report about Kurtz. Marlow, deeply influenced by Kurtz’ personality, uttered “nevertheless I think Mr. Kurtz is a remarkable man”.

The manager interrupted him with the words: “he was”. Marlow turned his attention to the wilderness and he felt: “an intolerable weight oppressing my breast, the smell of the damp earth, the unseen presence of victorious corruption, the darkness of an impenetrable night”. The Russian came to Marlow and shared a deep suspicion that the reputation of Kurtz was in danger with the manager but Marlow assured him that the reputation of Kurtz was safe with him. The Russian tells Marlow that Kurtz did not want to go; therefore, “it was Kurtz who had ordered the attack to be made on the steamer”. ‘Kurtz “hated sometimes the idea of being taken away”. By attacking the ship, he wanted them to go away and never come back.

After informing Marlow of all that he could, the Russia decided to lose himself in the wilderness. Marlow gave him his old shoes and some cartridges. Marlow thought that he would not meet such a man in his life again. Marlow slept and woke at midnight. He heard yells and noises. There was light inside the cabin of Mr. Kurtz but he was not in there. Marlow decided to see where Kurtz had moved. He came ashore and followed a track of someone crawling on all four. Marlow knew it was Kurtz. He followed and outreached Kurtz who asked Marlow to leave silently. Marlow realized that he had endangered himself. There was a long black woman with the horns on her head. She looked fiendish to Marlow.

He told Kurtz that he was doing wrong to himself: “you will be lost, utterly lost”. Marlow tells us: “I tried to break the spell-the heavy, mute spell of the wilderness-that seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions”. Next morning their ship moved. The large woman ran up to the river brink and shouted something. There was a roar of naked people uttering something which was not clear to Marlow. The woman had her hands stretched while their ship moved away to the sea. During the whole voyage Marlow heard different utterances of Kurtz as: “the wastes of his weary brain were haunted by shadowy images now-images of wealth and fame revolving obsequiously round his inextinguishable gift of noble and lofty expression. My Intended, my station, my career, my ideas-these were the subjects for the occasional utterances of elevated sentiments.”

Kurtz was dreaming of his motives: “Of course you must take care of the motives-right motives-always”. The journey was going well but one day the ship had some leaky cylinders which needed repair, so they stopped on an island to do the work. It took some days and Marlow remained busy with the repairmen. Once night he heard Kurtz murmuring: “I am lying here in the dark waiting for death”. On the same night when Marlow was sitting near the manager, the manager’s boy rushed and told: “Mistah Kurtz-he dead”. Everybody went into the cabin to see but Marlow did not move: “I remained, and went on with my dinner. I believe I was considered brutally callous”. Marlow creates visual description of human existence in Congo from imperialistic aspect: “there was a lamp in there-light, don’t you know-and outside it was so beastly, beastly dark”. The next day the companions Marlow buried something in the mud i.e. Kurtz.

Marlow remained alone and thought of life and destiny. Destiny… the most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself-that comes too late-a crop of inextinguishable regrets”. Marlow elaborates “the reason why I affirm that Kurtz was a remarkable man” because Kurtz “had something to say. He said it…that he could not see the flame of the candle, but was wide enough to embrace the whole universe, piercing enough to penetrate all the hearts that beat in the darkness. For Marlow, Kurtz was remarkable because “he had summed up-he had judged. The horror!” Marlow cannot get the personality of Kurtz vanished from his mind because it is him that has taught him the fact that “all the wisdom, and all truth, and all sincerity, are just compressed into that inappreciable moment of time in which we step over the threshold of the invisible”.

With these thoughts of reality of human existence Marlow returned to Europe where he found people going about life in far superior and apparently peaceful manner. Marlow wanted to laugh at these people. Marlow also relates that he refused to give even a single document of Kurtz to the manager. He had rows with them but he didn’t give up the documents.

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