Importance of the Natives in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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The Importance of the Natives in Heart Of Darkness Conrad has been accused of racism because of the way he portrays the natives in his novel, Heart of Darkness. It has been argued that the natives cannot be an essential part of Heart of Darkness due to the manner in which they are depicted. However, a careful reading reveals that the story would be incomplete without the natives. Marlow develops a relationship with one of the natives - perhaps the first time in his life that Marlow creates a bond with someone outside of his own race. Without the natives, there could be no Kurtz. The natives are his "people" and his followers: Suddenly round the corner of the house a group of men appeared, as though they had…show more content…
He describes the natives as "ants" which are decomposers. Marlow is describing the natives as creatures that do nothing but break down and destroy the land. When Marlow tries to get away from this scene of natives he steps "into a gloomy circle of some Inferno...Black shapes crouched, lay, sat between the trees, leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth, half coming out, half effaced within the dim light, in all the attitudes of pain, abandonment, and despair...They were dying slowly...they were nothing earthly now, nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation lying confusedly in the greenish gloom." (Conrad 20) Marlow characterizes the natives as "unearthly creatures" that have been abandoned from society. It has been accepted that they do not deserve to live like regular human beings. They must live in "abandonment and despair" because they are criminals. Marlow depicts them as slowly rising out of the earth as if they were horrid creatures that only come out in the darkness because no one can bear to see them in the daytime. Marlow also describes the natives as "bundles of acute angles sat with their legs drawn up...one of these creatures rose to his hands and knees and went off on all-fours towards the river to drink. He lapped out of his hand, then sat up in the sunlight crossing his shins in front of him, and after a time let his woolly head fall on his breastbone." (Conrad 21) This is utter degradation of a human being. At
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