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"[…] the uncle said, 'The climate may do away with this difficulty for you. Is he alone there?'" (2.1)
The uncle says that nature (the climate) might "do away" with Kurtz, freeing up a rung on the corporate ladder for him and his nephew. Let's see: heat, darkness, wild animals, cannibals—yep, things are looking pretty dire for Kurtz. (Of course, the subtext is that the manager and his nephew might be running into some of these problems, too.)
[The manager's uncle]: "'Ah! my boy, trust to this—I say, trust to this.' I saw him extend his short flipper of an arm for a gesture that took in the forest, the creek the mud, the river—seemed to beckon with a dishonouring flourish before the sunlit face of the land a treacherous appeal to the lurking death, to the hidden evil, to the profound darkness of its heart. It was so startling that I leaped to my feet and looked back at the edge of the forest, as though I had expected an answer of some sort to that black display of confidence." (2.2)
The manager hopes that nature will kill Kurtz, even though, honestly, isn't it just as likely that the jungle will kill him instead? Isn't the point of evil that it's not too picky about its victims? (Well—unless you're a virgin in a horror movie, that is. Then you're probably safe.)
"Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish […]. On silvery sand-banks hippos and alligators sunned themselves side by side. The broadening waters flowed through a mob of wooded islands; you lost your way on that river as you would in a desert, and butted all day long against shoals, trying to find the channel, till you thought yourself bewitched and cut off for ever from everything you had known once—somewhere—far away—in another existence perhaps." (2.5)
As the pilgrims travel upriver, they feel like they're heading back in time—all the way back to the prehistoric ages when wild beasts ruled the world. Want to hear our thoughts about this time travel? Check out what we have to say in "Setting."