The Withered Arm

Topics: Thomas Hardy, Narrative, Life's Little Ironies Pages: 8 (2687 words) Published: November 26, 2010
1. -------------------------------------------------
Two Europeans, Kayerts and Carlier work on an outpost in Africa. They work for a Belgian ivory trading company. The outpost is very isolated, and the men must have their supplies/food delivered by boat. At the station work ten black natives and Makola. He is the storekeeper and lives at the station with his wife.

At first Kayerts and Carlier are working very hard. They want to get very rich, but after a while they become lazy. One day, Makola sells the ten African workers as slaves for a lot of ivory. Kayerts and Carlier don't do anything about this deal./don't try and stop this trade. They accept the fact, that people were traded for ivory.

In this situation, you can see that Makola is the real chief/boss of the station. Kayerts and Carlier are too irresponsible/inexperienced, so Makola now runs the outpost. When the natives, living around them, hear of people being traded as slaves, they become scared. They stop supplying the station with food and supplies. Kayerts and Carlier soon suffer from hunger, as the boat which supplies them doesn't come for months.

They/The men become ill and frustrated. At the end of the story they have an argument, that ends tragically. Kayerts accidently kills Carlier because of some sugar he wants to have in his tea. On the next day, before the boat arrives, Kayerts kills himself/commits suicide. 2. This book is both a psychological thriller and a political statement. Written in 1896, Joseph Conrad gives an account of two white traders, Carlier and Kayerts, who are out- posted in Africa at a trading station. Although the Europeans do trade goods, their underlying purpose is to export "civilization," from Europe to Africa. Carlier and Kayerts are living in colonial times. England and other European countries have control over Africa. The native people are seen as in need of being civilized. 3. As the steamer that drops them off fades into the distance, Carlier and Kayerts already begin to feel uneasy. Out in the jungle with no other Europeans to support their views about the world, they sense that they are out of their element, and not up to the task they have been assigned. Their predecessor lies..... 4. Summary

5. Kayerts and Carlier are put in charge of a remote and
6. unpromising trading station on a river. Its previous agent 7. died of fever and his grave, marked by a cross, forms part 8. of the outpost. The director of the trading company, who 9. predicts their failure, leaves them with enough provisions 10. to last for the six months until his envisaged return. Makola, 11. ‘a civilized nigger’ who lives with his family on the outpost, 12. is responsible for the acquisition and storage of ivory and is 13. in charge of the ten black men working (not very effectively) 14. at the post. The other group of natives, ‘Father’ Gobila’s 15. people, are friendly and provide the station with local 16. supplies. When a group of fierce-looking black strangers 17. appears in the compound, Makola behaves very strangely 18. and makes clandestine arrangements to sell the ten station 19. men to the strangers in return for six beautiful tusks that 20. are deposited in the yard. It gradually dawns on Kayerts 21. and Carlier that they have become involved in a terrible 22. crime, but after discarding their initial pangs of guilt are 23. comforted by the thought of lucrative commissions on the 24. ivory. The steamer is late, their provisions are running low 25. and the physical and mental state of the two white men 26. deteriorates rapidly. Demoralized by a quarrel over the last 27. lumps of sugar, they begin to fight, and Kayerts shoots the 28. unarmed Carlier in what he believes to be self-defence. 29. When the steamer finally arrives, the director discovers 30. Kayerts’s body hanging from the cross with his tongue 31. disrespectfully stuck out at him....
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