An Outpost of Progress

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  • Topic: Africa, Atlantic slave trade, Slavery
  • Pages : 2 (640 words )
  • Download(s) : 523
  • Published : May 29, 2008
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After living in one place for a very long time moving to another location can be very difficult to adapt to. This is illustrated in the short story, “An Outpost of Progress,” by Joseph Conrad when Kayerts, a short and fat European, hangs himself from a cross. Many changes from the sophisticated life of Europe, to the uncivilized tropical life of Africa are presented to the men and the consequences of slave trade. The white man is supposed to be more cultured than the African, but like Africans the Europeans turn on one another ending in death.

In “An Outpost of Progress,” Conrad foreshadows Kayerts’ death by mentioning him adjusting a cross, “So I planted it upright. And solid, I promise you! I suspended myself with both hands to the cross-piece. Not a move. Oh, I did it properly.”(5) This foreshadows the death of Kayerts by saying how stable the cross is and that he even tried it with both hands hanging and it still didn’t budge. Conrad uses imagery a great deal in this work of literature. It is used to describe the environment or situations that are presented to the men in Africa such as, right before Kayerts hung himself on the cross Conrad writes, …the fog rolled low over his head. He looked round like a man who has lost his way; and he saw a dark smudge, a cross-shaped stain, upon the shifting purity of the mist. As he began to stumble towards it, the station bell rang in a tumultuous peal its answer to the impatient clamour of the steamer.(16)

This is an example of how imagery can make a story much more interesting, realistic and alluring.
The theme presented in the story is a slow regression of civilized Europeans into savages in Africa. Kayerts and Carlier began their African adventure being sheltered from what was really going on. As the time passes, the two men lose their sense of civilization and start to turn on one another like savages would do. Also, the white man is supposed to be more glorified than the Africans are, but it...
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