Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
When Marlow meets the accountant, he's stunned:
I met a white man, in such an unexpected elegance of get-up that in the first moment I took him for a sort of vision. I saw a high starched collar, white cuffs, a light alpaca jacket, snowy trousers, a clean necktie, and varnished boots. No hat. Hair parted, brushed, oiled, under a green-lined parasol held in a big white hand. He was amazing, and had a penholder behind his ear. (1.42)
Okay, now picture yourself heading off to a camping trip in your prom gear: boutonniere, cummerbund, sparkly dress, maybe even some sexy heels. Pretty ridiculous, right? That's the accountant.
The thing is, he symbolizes the Company as it wants to be seen. He dresses elegantly despite the heat and the poverty of the black native African workers surrounding him, emphasizing the Company's professionalism. He's always immersed in his accounting books, diligently completing his work, which represents the Company's devotion to perfection and excellence.
Yep, this guy really is Employee of the Year—especially when his only response to the groans of a coworker is to complain about how it's hard to do math when someone's dying across the room. (True that. We can't even do math in the silence of a proctored test room.) His varnished boots help us see exactly how hypocritical and disgusting the company is.