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"I avoided a vast artificial hole somebody had been digging on the slope, the purpose of which I found it impossible to divine. It wasn't a quarry or a sandpit, anyhow. It was just a hole. It might have been connected with the philanthropic desire of giving the criminals something to do. I don't know. Then I nearly fell into a very narrow ravine, almost no more than a scar in the hillside." (1.38)
This random hole seems to have no purpose and is another sign of the increasing absurdity and incomprehensibility of the wilderness. However, this absurdity is no longer harmless. Indeed, Marlow almost falls into the "silly" hole and matters no longer seem so amusing.
"He had come out for a moment, he said, 'to get a breath of fresh air. The expression sounded wonderfully odd, with its suggestion of sedentary desk-life." (1.43)
The notion of getting a breath of fresh air is so odd because the whole station is outdoors. Getting inside, into some semblance of civilization, is much more difficult than coming outside. This shows the inverted ideas of the accountant.
"In the steady buzz of flies the homeward-bound agent was lying finished and insensible; the other, bent over his books, was making correct entries of perfectly correct transactions; and fifty feet below the doorstep I could see the still tree-tops of the grove of death." (1.48)
Marlow draws our attention to the madness of the situation by juxtaposing two very different images together – one of a man lying dead on his deathbed, and another of the accountant quietly going about his business as if nothing were wrong.