Study Guide

Nostromo Part 2, Chapter 4

By Joseph Conrad

Part 2, Chapter 4

  • After that detour into Martin's background/reasons for being in Sulaco, we've flashed back to the day of the Sulaco troops' departure for battle against General Montero's people, with Martin leaning against Mrs. Gould's carriage.
  • We get a little bit of the conversation between General Barrios and Mrs. Gould, with a healthy amount of backstory on Barrios thrown in.
  • Then General Barrios has to depart, and Mrs. Gould's carriage (with Martin now in it) departs for the Goulds' house. They stop at Viola's hotel along the way to chat/grab some water. In the process, Martin and Viola grumble a little bit about politics.
  • Martin's generally mocking/sarcastic tone seems to rub everyone in the company the wrong way, including a dude named Scarfe (who worked for the railway), who comes by to pay his respects to Mrs. Gould.
  • Then, Scarfe goes on a tirade about Montero, noting, "There was no saying what would happen to the railway if the revolution got the upper hand" (II.4.31). His ramblings about Montero, how much he loves working on the railway, etc. don't really go over well, and after a really awkward silence, Mrs. Gould ordered the carriage on. Scarfe is left behind, apparently a bit puzzled/embarrassed by the chilly reception his speech got.
  • Meanwhile, the folks in the carriage discuss Scarfe's immaturity and enthusiasm for Ribiera and the railway industry, as well as the larger political/cultural currents that Scarfe symbolizes.