Study Guide

Nostromo Part 1, Chapter 8

By Joseph Conrad

Part 1, Chapter 8

  • Moving right along, we learn about the mine's effect on life in Sulaco prior to the arrival of the railway. Apparently, it had a steadying effect.
  • We then learn more about the mine and how it developed, and how life among the miners went down.
  • The narrator also describes how Nostromo kept order among (read: punished) the workers when they tried to strike.
  • We learn about the relationship between Dr. Monygham and Father Román.
  • Then, we get more details about the Goulds' lives leading up to the mine's first production—and the moment they produced their first silver ingot. We wish we had stories like that. Or ingots like that.
  • This somehow leads into a story about Hernández, a famous bandit—apparently seeing the ingot reminded Don Pepe of him.
  • The chapter gets into more detail about how the mine and those associated with it gained power and influence, and the backlash this may have created among Costaguana politicians.
  • We hear about the first shipment of silver to San Francisco via an O.S.N. boat and get some more deets about how distribution worked.
  • And now we're back to more history of the political landscape in Costaguana. Apparently, the mine emerged at a time of relative peace—and in political conditions that allowed it to flourish.
  • The narration now jumps back to Sir John's trip to Costaguana to promote the railways, which Charles Gould helped out with. A lot. During his trip, Sir J. got the impression that the San Tomé mine had helped finance the revolution that brought Don Vincente, a dictator, to power. He's right on the money with this theory.
  • We hear more about a lunch held on the Juno during Sir John's visit and the dynamics between Gould, Don Vincente, Sir John, Mrs. Gould, and General Montero that were evidently at play that day. This was Don Vincente's first official visit to Sulaco.
  • During the lunch, Don Vincente spoke, as did General Montero. The general made a somewhat ominous reference to the honor of the country being in the hands of the military… yuck. That doesn't sound good.
  • During his speech, Montero ended up staring directly at Sir John and, thinking of some "lately-negotiated loan" (I.8.56), offered a toast to the man bringing Costaguana 1.5 million pounds. Apparently, it was super awkward.
  • Anyway, the group recovered, and then Mrs. Gould took the opportunity to ask Sir John for a favor: when the rail line was built, she asked that Giorgio Viola's house not be disturbed. Sir John agreed.
  • Mrs. Gould went to tell Viola, and then Viola told Nostromo.
  • Nostromo then left Viola, riding off on his horse. As he rode through throngs of people, he was greeted and stared at by tons of people. Apparently, he really was quite the big deal. One guy was even addressing him as "his worship" and begged for a job on the wharf.
  • Nostromo then arrived at a dance hall, and ran into a girl he called Morenita. Apparently, they were an item, and they had a flirty but fighty encounter. He ended up demanding that she cut all the silver buttons off of her shirt as a "present." This weirdo demand is (according to Nostromo) intended to appease her, because it's to let others know that she and Nostromo are lovers. Not surprisingly, Morenita doesn't like idea of ruining her shirt for Jerk-stromo, and ended up wandering away in a huff.
  • The chapter ends by noting that Don Vincente had departed from Sulaco, and reminds us that he would return a year and a half later in the process of fleeing the country. In other ominous foreshadowing, we learn that Nostromo's heroics in saving Don Vincente on that occasion ultimately resulted in a "fatality." Dum dum dum.