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\Studyworld\ Studyworld Studynotes \ Heart of Darkness (preview):
Section 1 - Part 2

From the mouth of the river Marlow travels two hundred miles on to his Company's station. The station is located in a slope. It seems to be in a state of disarray: decomposing machinery is scattered around the hill, a railway is in process of construction, and an objectless detonation blasts from time to time. A file of obviously starving black criminals connected by a chain wanders close to Marlow: "meager breasts panting", "with that complete, deathlike indifference of unhappy savages". Behind them, an African, absorbed into the Company's workforce, keeps them in check and acknowledges our protagonist's presence. While standing still on the hillside, Marlow is overcome by a warning: he foresees his meeting with a cruel, sinister yet seductive madman. After this appalling instant, he descends the slope, avoiding an artificial hole, a possible product of the philanthropic desire to give the criminals "something to do". A rushing noise announces the closeness of the rapids, where starving and ill "unearthly black shapes" lie around the trees waiting for their imminent deaths. As an abrupt gesture of pity, Marlow offers a biscuit to a man reclining beneath him.

After his small tour through this infernal atmosphere of horror, Marlow heads toward the station. In his course, he meets an anomaly in the wilderness: the Company's chief accountant. He was elegantly dressed-up and clean: a spark of order in a world of chaos. In the accountant's office Marlow listens to the first anecdote about Mr. Kurtz from an invalid sick agent. Kurtz is described with admiration as a remarkable first-class agent who mobilizes great quantities of ivory. Suddenly, a caravan arrives to the rhythmic racket of the incoherent babble and trampling feet of the carriers. The accountant alludes to their entrance as one of the reasons he hates the savages "to the death". He adds that Marlow should tell Mr. Kurtz about the satisfactory status of the station, and asserts that Kurtz has a bright future ahead of him, probably a position in the Administration.

After a ten-day wait, Marlow finally leaves for the Central Station with a sixty men caravan. This two hundred mile and fifteen day journey through deserted paths is underlined by a sense of monotony and solitude. The only noise that breaks up the aura of silence is the distant tremors of drums in the evenings. Marlow's only white companion falls to the fever and is carried in a hammock. The carriers complain and after a speech half in English half in signs from Marlow, they wreck hammock and all into the bushes, skinning the sick man's nose in the process. Ironically remembering the doctor's comment about scientifically interesting mental changes, Marlow feels that he is becoming scientifically interesting.

When Marlow arrives to the Central Station he is informed that his steamer is underneath the river thanks to a volunteer skipper who drove it into the stones and thus ruptured the bottom of the boat. Afterward, the manager interviews Marlow in his personal hut. The latter's impression of the former is negative: he describes the manager as commonplace and uneducated, cold, and crafty, with an ineffable smile. Yet Marlow underlines an outstanding characteristic: his extraordinary endurance against tropical diseases. The manager does not pay any attention to Marlow and does not even offer him a seat. He only states that the steamer tried to leave without Marlow because of the urgent need for verifying the rumors about Mr. Kurtz's illness and the jeopardy of his station. Since Mr. Kurtz was his best agent and a great asset for the Company, the manager felt very anxious in respect to the situation. Irritated, Marlow leaves the hut. The next day, he started to repair the wrecked steamer, a task that will last months. It was his only way of not losing grasp of the "redeeming facts of life". Still, he could not help noticing his surroundings, the hustle and bustle about ivory, the "imbecile rapacity" of the agents and workers in the Company.

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Section 1 - Part 1
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