Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness Chapter 2 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Before it stopped running with a muffled rattle, a cry, a very loud cry, as of infinite desolation, soared slowly in the opaque air. It ceased. A complaining clamour, modulated in savage discords, filled our ears. The sheer unexpectedness of it made my hair stir under my cap. I don't know how it struck the others: to me it seemed as though the mist itself had screamed, so suddenly, and apparently from all sides at once, did this tumultuous and mournful uproar arise. It culminated in a hurried outbreak of almost intolerably excessive shrieking, which stopped short, leaving us stiffened in a variety of silly attitudes, and obstinately listening to the nearly as appalling and excessive silence. 'Good God! What is the meaning –' stammered at my elbow one of the pilgrims." (2.13)
None of the men understand the wordless cries of the native Africans onshore. Their inability to communicate linguistically reflects a larger disconnect between the two groups of people.
"I fretted and fumed and took to arguing with myself whether or no I would talk openly with Kurtz; but before I could come to any conclusion it occurred to me that my speech or my silence, indeed any action of mine, would be a mere futility." (2.12)
At the thought of speaking with Kurtz, of perhaps sharing some of his own ideas with this man who has earned his awe, Marlow quickly begins to doubt himself. He feels as if his speech would make no difference to Kurtz or their awful situation. He feels as if words are futile in the interior and carry no power.
"I slipped the book into my pocket. I assure you to leave off reading was like tearing myself away from the shelter of an old and solid friendship." (2.10)
Marlow, through the connecting medium of language, feels as though the author of the book is a close friend. It helps stave off some of his loneliness.