Trading Post Trauma
Killing a man over a cube of sugar seems a little extreme, but when placed in such a terrifying situation that is the reality. When arriving in Africa, the two white men have very high hopes. Carlier and Kayerts soon realize that they are entering a whole other world much different from their home of Europe. In Joseph Conrad’s “ An Outpost of Progress”, the two men working at the trading station are on an emotional roller coaster. The horror of this situation is too much for Carlier and Kayerts to handle. Throughout the course of the story, the men had a lot of trouble keeping hope. When one of the company’s steamers broke, the Director “… thought that the useless station, and the useless men, could wait. Meantime Kayerts and Carlier lived on rice boiled without salt, and cursed the company, all Africa, and the day they were born” (94). Without the goods the steamer would bring, the men got irritated and frustrated. Days passed, and soon weeks passed, and still no steamer. Eventually the men started thinking the steamer may never return. The lousy trading station did not have any ivory or luxury items to trade, so Makola decided to take matters into his own hands. Makola traded the workers for ivory because “ those traders wanted carriers badly, and our men were no good here” (90). Makola thought he was doing the best thing for the company, but by trading all the workers, the business was now doomed. Without workers, the company has no future. With the company doomed, his only friend dead, and no news of the steamer returning, Kayerts could not handle his situation. To escape the mess, he “ … climbed the grave, which was high and narrow, and after tying the end of the straps to the arm, had swung himself off” (101). Kayerts has lost all hope in Africa and refused to stay here another day, miserable and alone. The men had a hard time adjusting from the comforting society in Europe to a rural village in Africa. Kayerts and...
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