Heart of Darkness Active Reading Guide

Topics: Heart of Darkness, Kurtz, The Station nightclub fire Pages: 10 (3808 words) Published: November 11, 2012
* Fifteen days after leaving the outer station Marlow “hobble[s] into the Central Station”, which was being run by “the flabby devil”, referring to the greed of the Europeans. There he finds out that his ship had been sunk when they tried to take off before he got there. He also meets the manager of the Central Station who is only employed because he never gets sick, and the brick maker who doesn’t actually make any bricks. He overhears a conversation between the manager and his uncle, who is leading the “Eldorado Exploring Expedition” that passes through the station. They are talking about Mr. Kurtz. This all occurs two months before they reach Kurtz’s station. * Marlow then takes off in his newly repaired boat (Conrad 21). Fifty miles before Marlow reaches the Inner Station where Kurtz is, he comes across a hut on the side of the river. They approach and see a sign on a pile of wood that says “Wood for you. Hurry Up. Approach Cautiously”. Then inside a hut, Marlow finds a book entitled An Inquiry into some Points of Seamanship inside of which are notes written in what Marlow says “looked like cipher” (38). * Eight miles before Marlow and his crew reach Kurtz they get stuck in a heavy fog, and are unable to move for quite a bit of time. Then once the fog lifts they are able to proceed, but find themselves stuck once again one and a half miles before reaching Kurtz. Here they are attacked by the natives. They blow the whistle on the boat and the natives are scared away (47). * Finally, Marlow reaches the Inner Station. The first person that he meets is the Russian/Harlequin, who idolizes Kurtz. He then meets Kurtz who is taken aboard the steam boat. Kurtz dies aboard the steamboat, and Marlow returns to Europe. * In Brussells, Marlow goes to visit Kurtz’s intended. She is distraught over Kurtz’s death, so Marlow lies to her about the reality of what really happened, saying Kurtz was a good and honorable man (75-79). 2.

* While Marlow is in the Central Station, page 23, he is required to repair his ship which had sunk before he reached the Station. Marlow says: I went to work the next day, turning, so to speak, my back on that station. In that way only could I keep my hold on the redeeming facts of life. Still, one must look about sometimes; and then I saw this station, these men strolling aimlessly about in the sunshine of the yard.

In this passage, when Marlow states he is turning his “back on [the] station” he is referring to the lack of work that goes on at the Central Station, and how his hard work repairing his steam boat looks in contrast. When he says that work allows him to “keep [his] hold on the redeeming facts of life” it lets the reader know that he values work, and thinks it encourages people to become better. * Still at the Central Station, Marlow makes another comment on the work ethic of the Europeans who are at the station saying that their pretending to work was

“as unreal as everything else—as the philanthropic pretence of the whole concern, as their talk, as their government, as their show of work…They intrigued and slandered and hated each other only on that account—but as to effectually lifting a little finger—oh no” (25).

His sarcastic tone toward the end of the excerpt, shows that he views their refusal to work as silly and ridiculous. The way he can so easily see through their pretence also shows how little effort they put into everything in the Congo, because they are driven by greed, and greed alone. * When Marlow comes across the book in the hut on the side of the river he exclaims that it was

“not a very enthralling book; but at the first glance you could see there a singleness of intention, an honest concern for the right way of going to work, which made these humble pages, thought out so many years ago, luminous with another than a professional light” (39).

The fact that Marlow is so impressed by the book because it appreciates hard,...
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