Special Sub-Topic: Heart of Darkness
|On what boat does this story begin?|
The Nellie. Our narrator commences the story on the River Thames in London as a crew aboard a yawl known as The Nellie settles in for a slow cruise down the English waterway. Particularly, the narrator makes mention of a man named Marlow who rests on the side of the ship. This man, described as one who still followed the sea, makes note of the fact that England has been known as one of the dark places of the Earth. He continues onward with his tale, hesitating to even speak it out of the interest of the crew, but he speaks anyways of his travels.
Once, in London, he had dreamed to venture to foreign lands and one in particular. To do so, he received a job and became employed as the skipper of a ship heading to Africa filling the void left by a Danish man who was killed earlier at the same destination by a local Native tribesman. So the gears go into motion- Marlow heads to the offices of his particular trade company and he's set up with the necessary paperwork. Upon receiving a physical from a doctor he is asked if his family has a history of madness though he is assured that this is a formality in the name of science.
|Which relative is responsible for helping Marlow get his job in Africa?|
Aunt. Before embarking on his journey, Marlow speaks with his aunt who got him the job in Africa and she states that she is happy to see people "weaning those ignorant millions from their horrible ways". Marlow is discomforted by this and gets the feeling that an ominous future lay ahead despite the fact that this is not his first sea voyage to an unknown land.
It takes over a month for Marlow to sail along the coasts of the continents he travels by. He finally arrives at the mouth of the river he so longs to visit and he finds that he must first wait at an intermediate location on his trek through Africa. On his way he discovers a spot where several malnourished locals have come, as he supposes, to die and he is shocked by what he sees. Onward, he finds a shack occupied by the company's accountant and it is here, in the company of this luxuriously-dressed man, where he waits for ten days for further instruction.
|What is the name of the 'Chief of the Inner Station'?|
Mr. Kurtz. As Marlow makes his way through the African wilderness to a post upriver, he begins to note the difficult tasks ahead. Along the way men start to fall ill with foreign diseases, the land is bleak and empty, and upon arriving at the station fifteen days journey away, he is presented with even more bad news about Mr. Kurtz, the agent who he is expected to meet. The man has fallen ill with similar diseases and the situation is somewhat dire. Leaving the station the very next day, Marlow encounters even more odd occurrences from spontaneous fires to wandering natives performing uncanny spiritual bouts. The men from Britain do very little, Marlow discovers, and he claims that they always seem to wait for something when all that ever really comes is disease. The men are also waiting for their appointment to work at trading posts in the area though there is no telling how long they must wait. When Marlow asks one of the men about Mr. Kurtz, he discovers that this mysterious man he has never met is the Chief of the Inner Station and that the men who his aunt was acquainted with (and who gave him the job) also specially recommended Kurtz for the role he plays in Africa. Nonetheless, the man Marlow asks is apprehensive about talking on the subject of the yet-to-be-seen Mr. Kurtz as the man seems to have a reputation beyond his name.
|In Africa, Marlow demands which of these items as a necessity?|
Rivets. While talking to the supposed bricklayer of his companions in Africa, Marlow discovers that the man never actually created a single brick in his year on the continent for whatever reason. Marlow assumes that something physical must have been missing for this to happen and he realizes what he thinks is missing from his band of travelers: rivets. Quite simply, if rivets (which could be found amongst the supplies at stations earlier along his route) were to be had and used, many of the holes in the objects in their possession could be mended and they would be much better off. The rivets are simply an idea that never comes to pass, and when Marlow and his group arrive at the site of the Central Station, there are other things to worry about instead.
|Before arriving at the Inner Station, Marlow and his ship find a small, empty domicile by the river. What is found under the flagpole here?|
Firewood. Two months from the start of the journey at the mouth of the river, Marlow arrives at the Inner Station. En route he waits through many different hardships from acclimatizing to the odd smells, sights, sounds, and customs of the African jungle to waiting as his steamship is pushed from the shallow edges of the river. At one point, Marlow overhears an uncle and his nephew speaking about Mr. Kurtz from the shore and their distaste for the man otherwise revered as a genius by other men who know or have heard of his reputation. On other occasions, Marlow muses about the vast, impeding wilderness, a blackening wall of treeline containing unknown dangers and ultimately, darkness. His ship heads into the heart of it. The ship passes by tribes of natives performing their daily rituals and none of the men on board can make sense of the events transpiring in the jungle.
About fifty miles from the Inner Station, the men on Marlow's boat find an abandoned hut on the shores of the river and here, under a flagpole, they find firewood and a note stating: 'Wood for you. Hurry up. Approach cautiously.' While the men on the boat gather the firewood, Marlow finds a tattered, old book in the hut containing a cipher and he takes it with him.
|Upon sailing into dense fog upon the river, Marlow's steamboat is ambushed by African natives.|
T. With less than ten miles of river left to go before reaching the Inner Station, Marlow and his crew decide to heed the note left at the earlier riverside hut and take it slowly down the waters. This becomes all the more important when a dense fog rolls in and blocks their views to both shores. This is when a group of hostile natives makes their move beginning with a warcry from all sides of Marlow's boat. Although they aren't advanced upon until making a wrong turn down a fork in the river, the two sides begin making their moves against one another and bullets and arrows are shot from their respective sides. One of the African men onboard the ship is killed by an enemy arrow while Marlow realizes that Mr. Kurtz may very well be dead...and they might be too.
|When Marlow meets with the supposed Chief of the Inner Station, what precious material is in this famous man's possession?|
Ivory. Marlow continues his story to a point after the attack. Mr. Kurtz is, in fact, alive. His shack at the Inner Station was filled with ivory before much of it was brought onto the ship for transport. It turns out Mr. Kurtz feels entitled enough to 'own' the ivory, the jungle, the river, and much of everything else, and Marlow makes note of the man's mannerisms in this regard. Mr. Kurtz was originally commissioned to write a report on the customs of the land (which he did), but he came away from the experience a changed man. Now, as Marlow observes, the man had placed himself on "a high seat amongst the devils of the land". The Inner Station is not far downriver from the attack and the steamship reaches it quite soon. Marlow is greeted by a man who came from Russia who admits to leaving the message and firewood fifty miles downstream. Marlow also returns the man's book (it turns out that the cipher was text from his). The man also makes it clear that the Natives have not killed Kurtz- in fact, they don't really want him to leave.
|Arriving at the house of the Chief of the Inner Station, Marlow finds which of these things on the side of the residence?|
Heads on stakes. Marlow discovers that the unnamed man is certainly an admirer of Mr. Kurtz. Both times Kurtz had fallen dangerously ill, the man nursed him back to health despite the fact that he had also been threatened for his life (and a small bit of ivory) by the very same 'Chief'. It turns out that Kurtz had accumulated his earnings in ivory over the months by interacting with tribes across the district and exploring the nearby jungles, wading through the darkness. Now, once more, Mr. Kurtz has fallen ill.
Kurtz is brought to his house upon a stretcher carried by locals and it is clear that his health is failing. While extremely tall, Kurtz is also quite thin because of his condition. Marlow enters Mr. Kurtz' house and discovers the man's eclectic and expensive tastes. Even the heads on stakes adjacent to his house demonstrate the man's true motives.
|Of what nationality is the man who greets Marlow at the Inner Station?|
Russian. The Russian man who cared for Mr. Kurtz takes his leave asking Marlow for a pair of shoes, some cartridges, and a handful of tobacco. He makes his way onward through the jungle towards a prospective military camp. That night Marlow follows Mr. Kurtz into the jungle to where the man is to approach what seems to be a jungle sorcerer. Marlow tries to talk him out of visiting this man from afar, but Kurtz claims to know what he's doing. It is then that Marlow witnesses the undoing of the man's soul as the darkness of the jungle envelops them. Marlow is able to return Kurtz to his hut by the river and then, the following day, place him into the pilot-house of the steamboat. With the natives watching from the shore, the men aboard the boat sail away.
|Does Marlow return to Britain in the end of his narrative?|
Y. Kurtz has varying emotions as the boat heads back toward the ocean. He gives Marlow some papers and a photograph for safekeeping and as the days pass, Mr. Kurtz' life dwindles. Marlow can see the changes in this man filled with darkness and on his final day he utters his last words: "The horror! The horror!". One of the crew finds Kurtz dead on the same night.
Marlow returns to Britain and returns to good health (having been feverish on the return trip). Kurtz' lawyer arrives looking for personal effects as does one of Kurtz' cousins, but all he has are the personal letters and he keeps these to himself for the time being. He does hand them off at a time though, and to Kurtz' Intended. When he visits her a year after the man's death, she is still in mourning. The two of them discuss the late Chief and Marlow accidentally informs her that he was there until his very last words. When she urges him to recite them for her, he can't bring himself to tell her the truth; instead he says that his last breath said her name.
As Marlowe ends his story, the crew of the Nessie heads onward down the Thames which, as the narrator says, seems "to lead into the heart of an immense darkness".
Did you find these entries particularly interesting, or do you have comments / corrections to make? Let the author know!
Send the author a thank you or
Submit a correction