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"[…] on one end a large shining map, marked with all the colours of a rainbow. There was a vast amount of red - good to see at any time, because one knows that some real work is done in there, a deuce of a lot of blue, a little green, smears of orange, and, on the East Coast, a purple patch, to show where the jolly pioneers of progress drink the jolly lager-beer. However, I wasn't going into any of these. I was going into the yellow. Dead in the centre. And the river was there – fascinating – deadly – like a snake." (1.23)
Marlow considers all the colors on the map a sign of the Company’s real devotion to progress. That each of the colors represents a different country’s territory contrasts sharply with the blank space Marlow saw as a young boy. This means Africa has been explored a great deal since Marlow’s first fascination with it. However, he is beckoned forward by the sight of the snake-like Congo River.
"Watching a coast as it slips by the ship is like thinking about an enigma. There it is before you - smiling, frowning, inviting, grand, mean, insipid, or savage, and always mute with an air of whispering, 'Come and find out.'" (1.30)
Marlow is drawn in by the "enigma" of the coast. His desire to explore is so intense that he imagines the coasts whispering for him to "come and find out."
"One day he [the accountant] remarked, without lifting his head, 'In the interior you will no doubt meet Mr. Kurtz.' On my asking who Mr. Kurtz was, he said he was a first-class agent; and seeing my disappointment at this information, he added slowly, laying down his pen, 'He is a very remarkable person.' Further questions elicited from him that Mr. Kurtz was at present in charge of a trading-post, a very important one, in the true ivory-country, at 'the very bottom of there. Sends in as much ivory as all the others put together […].'" (1.46)
Curiosity impels Marlow to ask further questions of the accountant about Kurtz. Though Marlow does not seem particularly interested at first, the seed has been planted. He grows far more inquisitive about Kurtz later.