Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness Chapter 2 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"'Yes,' answered the manager; 'he sent his assistant down the river with a note to me in these terms: "Clear this poor devil out of the country, and don't bother sending more of that sort. I had rather be alone than have the kind of men you can dispose of with me." (2.1)
Kurtz is so powerful in the company that he can kick out his assistant and order the Company not to send him any more "of that sort." Must be nice—until it makes you crazy.
"Besides that, they had given them every week three pieces of brass wire, each about nine inches long; and the theory was they were to buy their provisions with that currency in riverside villages. You can see how that worked. There were either no villages, or the people were hostile, or the director, who like the rest of us fed out of tins, with an occasional old he-goat thrown in, didn't want to stop the steamer for some more or less recondite reason. So, unless they swallowed the wire itself, or made loops of it to snare the fishes with, I don't see what good their extravagant salary could be to them. I must say it was paid with a regularity worthy of a large and honourable trading company." (2.14)
The Company is so greedy that they assume the Africans are that way, too. Marlow makes fun of this attitude in the last sentence. When the pilgrims cannot offer suitable food to the Africans, they offer useless brass wire as payment. They don't care that brass wire isn't edible, or that the steamboat doesn't pass any villages where the Africans can step off and barter it for food. In other words, they have only themselves to blame that the cannibals are now so eager for human flesh.
"You should have heard him say, 'My ivory.' Oh, yes, I heard him. 'My Intended, my ivory, my station, my river, my—' everything belonged to him." (2.29)
Kurtz's sense of ownership has been warped by his status as a "god" amongst the native Africans. He thinks everything, including the wilderness he inhabits, belongs to him. His sense of himself has expanded to include everything around him, in sharp contrast to the other men's (i.e., Marlow's crew's) sense of getting smaller when they're surrounded by the wilderness.