Critique of Chinua Achebe’s
"An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'" 1. Disagree
"Certainly Conrad appears to go to considerable pains to set up layers of insulation between himself and the moral universe of his history. He has, for example, a narrator behind a narrator. The primary narrator is Marlow but his account is given to us through the filter of a second, shadowy person. But if Conrad's intention is to draw a cordon sanitaire between himself and the moral and psychological malaise of his narrator his care seems to me totally wasted because he neglects to hint however subtly or tentatively at an alternative frame of reference by which we may judge the actions and opinions of his characters." Although Achebe recognizes Conrad's use of multiple narrators, he dismisses any intention on Conrad's part of utilizing the narrators to introduce psychological depth in Heart of Darkness. I believe, however, that Conrad's full objective was to establish a moral and existential tone in his novella; he accomplished this by incorporating a second narrator. Conrad introduces the narrator and his surrounding characters as they navigate the Thames River. As the narrator describes Marlow and the other Seamen the reader begins to question where Marlow stands in this social hierarchy. Conrad thus establishes a tone of uncertainty in the credibility and morality of both Marlow and the narrator. The entire novella is a retelling of Marlow’s tales in Africa, years after they had occurred, which leaves the extent of Marlow’s exaggeration and embellishment of his story up for question. 2. Disagree "Joseph Conrad was a thoroughgoing racist. That this simple truth is glossed over in criticisms of his work is due to the fact that white racism against Africa is such a normal way of thinking that its manifestations go completely...
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