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"I was strangely cocksure of everything that night. I actually left the track and ran in a wide semicircle (I verily believe chuckling to myself) so as to get in front of that stir, of that motion I had seen - if indeed I had seen anything. I was circumventing Kurtz as though it had been a boyish game. " (3.27)
Marlow knows that since he chose to be on Kurtz’s side instead of the manager’s, he is fated to be "numbered with the dead" as far as the crew is concerned. Marlow comes to terms with this unfriendly fate, this "choice of nightmares" that was really not his choice; the circumstance forced this decision upon him.
"But I am of course aware that next day the pilgrims buried something in a muddy hole.
And then they very nearly buried me." (3.46-47)
Marlow is almost fated to die alongside Kurtz. This is not remarkable per se. Marlow and Kurtz’s lives paralleled each other – it should come as no surprise that they almost share the same death.
"I remained to dream the nightmare out to the end, and to show my loyalty to Kurtz once more. Destiny. My destiny! Droll thing life is – that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself – that comes too late – a crop of unextinguishable regrets." (3.48)
Marlow shows contempt for Fate. He cannot fathom it or its purpose. But he does learn from it; he learns of his deepest self but is also left with "a crop of unextinguishable regrets." In Heart of Darkness, Fate does not seem to have a happy ending for anyone.