Heart of Darkness

1958 Words8 Pages
STUDY GUIDE
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Each detail to which your attention is drawn by the Study Guide is part of the puzzle of Heart of Darkness. It is important to notice the details, to ponder them, to see how patterns repeat themselves, and to see how the pieces fit together. Marlow's journey and your reading about the journey require constant alertness, discipline, patience, and a willingness to look for what is not immediately apparent.

Section 1

A. The Thames Setting

1. Notice the descriptions of the tide, river, and ships. Who are the friends of Marlow who are on board the Nellie with him? Do their various occupations signify a subject important to the novel?

2. Marlow is like the setting of the river-the
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What does Marlow say about death?

D. The Central Station

1. Who is "the flabby devil" who is "running the show'? Why is Marlow so frustrated by what he sees in Africa and by the Europeans he meets?

2. Marlow finds his steamer at the bottom of the river and a manager who seems to take it for granted that nothing will be done efficiently. How does Marlow react? How does he adjust? What does he mean when he says there are no "external checks'?

3. Marlow hears about Kurtz again. What does he learn?

4. As he assumes his tack, Marlow says that work is a way of keeping hold on "the redeeming facts of life." What do you think he means? Why is this attitude toward work important for him in Africa?

5. What do you make of the strange episode of the fire and the hole in the bottom of the watering pail? What does this event contribute to Marlow's and the reader's sense of European life in Africa?

6. What details do you learn about the character of the brickmaker? What is a "papier-mâché Mephistopheles"?

7. Look at the description of the oil painting by Kurtz of the blindfolded woman. Remember this image; it will have important connections at other points in the novel. What impression does the painting give of the character of Kurtz the painter? of the woman?

8. What is Marlow's lie? Why does he tell it? Is it justified?

9. In the midst of the narrative, Marlow stops and speaks to his listeners: "Do you see him? Do you see the story? Do you see anything?
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