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Passage Analysis. “The Nellie, a cruising yawl…”. Who is on board? What do we know about our narrator?. HW for Tuesday 11/27. Read from “He was the only man of us who still ‘followed the sea’” (18) up to ‘I got my appointment—of course; and I got it very quick” (23)

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the nellie a cruising yawl
“The Nellie, a cruising yawl…”
  • Who is on board?
  • What do we know about our narrator?
hw for tuesday 11 27
HW for Tuesday 11/27
  • Read from “He was the only man of us who still ‘followed the sea’” (18) up to ‘I got my appointment—of course; and I got it very quick” (23)
  • Answer the circled questions on the next three slides
marlow no e this is not christopher he was the only man of us who still followed the sea
Marlow (no “e”…this is not Christopher) “He was the only man of us who still "followed the sea."
  • Why present some of Marlow’s characteristics through negation? And a lengthy negation, at that?
  • Consider the sentence, “The yarns of seamen have a direct simplicity, the whole meaning of which lies within the shell of a cracked nut.” Why compare their stories to a “kernel” in a “cracked” shell? Other than “simplistic” what can we tell about their stories?
  • Why state that the meanings of Marlow’s stories are “outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze, in the likeness of one of these misty halos that sometimes are made visible by the spectral illumination of moonshine”? Aside from “complex” or the like, what else can we tell about his stories?
  • Why use the simile “as a glow brings out a haze”? “Why “the spectral illumination of moonshine”? What do these comparisons suggest?
i was thinking of very old times
“I was thinking of very old times…”
  • In this paragraph, what does Marlow mean by stating “…very old times…the other day” and “darkness was here yesterday”?
  • Marlow says that “light came out of this river since” and then suggests that light is like “a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightening in the clouds.” Why compare the “light” to these types of lights? Go beyond “they are momentary; fleeting”…What does Marlow’s belief that we “live in the flicker” suggest about him?
starting with mind he began again page 20 7
Starting with ‘Mind,’ he began again…Page 20/7
  • “What saves us is efficiency—the devotion to efficiency.”
  • “What redeems it is an idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretencebut an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea—something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to…”
  • What do these statements mean? Consider his phrasing…”devotion to…”, “at the back of it,” “not a sentimental pretence”?
a decent young citizen in a toga 19 20 7
“…a decent young citizen in a toga…” (19-20/7)
  • “The fascination of the abomination – you know. Imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate.”
    • What image of a person does he develop in these lines?
  • How does the description of what happened to Fresleven (23/10) reflect what Marlow says most likely happened to the “decent young citizen in a toga” (19/7)? Knowing this link, how then do we read Marlow’s comment, “Mind, none of us would feel exactly like this…” (20/7)

What will we, as listeners of his story, need to do in order to fully understand the meaning? And, how is his manner of conveying meaning appropriate to the description we get of Marlow at the start?

the women
The women
  • Consider Marlow’s opinion of his aunt. What does he say about them? How is what they say similar to or different than the “idea” Marlow mentions earlier?
First view of nativesWrite down the descriptors that show Marlow’s move from initial reaction to more thoughtful consideration.
  • “Now and then a boat from the shore gave one a momentary contact with reality. It was paddled by black fellows. You could see from afar the white of their eyeballs glistening. They shouted, sang; their bodies streamed with perspiration; they had faces like grotesque masks – these chaps; but they had bone, muscle, a wild vitality, an intense energy of movement, that was as natural and true as the surf along their coast. They wanted no excuse for being there. They were a great comfort to look at” (30/16).
  • What image is created? What words develop this image? What is the effect/purpose of creating such an image?
  • “I came upon a boiler wallowing in the grass, then found a path leading up the hill. It turned aside for the boulders, and also for an undersized railway-truck lying there on its back with its wheels in the air. One was off. The thing looked as dead as the carcass of some animal…”
in class work and hw for 10 5
In-Class work and HW for 10/5
  • Read from page 33 bottom/19 top: “Instead of going up, I turned and descended to the left…” to end of part 1.
  • Remember to read closely and thoughtfully, annotating the book to facilitate your close reading.
  • Write responses to the following prompts in your journal…develop responses fully, reflecting insight into the text.
  • Consider Marlow’s description of the “devils” he has seen (34/19). What are the different types of “devils” he describes? What seems to link these “devils” and what separates them?
    • Watch the text for other “devils”…
      • the manager (40/25)
      • The “faithless pilgrims” (44/27)
      • The “manager’s spy” (45/28)/”papier-mache Mephistopheles” (48/31)
      • The “sordid buccaneers” of the Eldorado Exploring Expedition (54/36)
reread the description of the chief accountant and marlow s reaction to him 36 21
Reread the description of the chief accountant and Marlow’s reaction to him (36/21)
  • “I shook hands with this miracle…I respected the fellow. Yes; I respected his collars, his vast cuffs, his brushed hair…”
  • How are we to take Marlow? Why does he say that he has a respect for the accountant? What does this suggest about Marlow?
copy the following quote into your notes
Copy the following quote into your notes
  • “In the steady buzz of flies the homeward-bound agent was lying flushed 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” (38/23).
  • Now analyze it…what is going on and how does the structure of this quote support the ideas presented in the book so far?
  • Although we have not met Kurtz yet, we have been introduced to him. What do we know about Kurtz, and what is Marlow’s impression of him by the end of Part 1?
self selected sentence s
Self-Selected Sentence(s)
  • Select a sentence(s) that stands out to you as particularly artful for the use of language to convey meaning. Explain why the line(s) is so powerful and explore how Conrad’s use of language creates an effect.
narrative present
Narrative Present
  • Reread page 50/32-33. How does the return to the narrative present help shape the story and Marlow’s view of Kurtz? How does the unnamed narrator feel at this point in Marlow’s narrative? Support with specifics.
10 6 updated hw for tuesday
10/6: Updated HW for Tuesday
  • Read from where we left off on page 60/42 to the paragraph on page 73/53 beginning “You should have seen the pilgrims stare!”
  • Answer the required three prompts on slides 19, 20, 21. The prompt on slide 18 is optional.
  • Enjoy your weekend!
copy the following quote into your notes1
Copy the following quote into your notes
  • “The sun was low; and leaning forward side by side, they seemed to be tugging painfully uphill their two ridiculous shadows of unequal length, that trailed behind them slowly over the tall grass without bending a single blade” (59/40-41).
  • Now analyze it…how does this description help us understand these two men?
copy the following quote into your notes2
Copy the following quote into your notes
  • “Trees, trees, millions of trees, massive, immense, running up high; and at their foot, hugging the bank against the stream, crept the little begrimed steamboat, like a sluggish beetle crawling on the floor of a lofty portico. It made you feel very small, very lost, and yet it was not altogether depressing that feeling” (61,43) .

Now analyze it…how does the diction and syntax convey Marlow’s feeling?

paraphrase the following lines
Paraphrase the following lines…
  • “…And this stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention” (60/41).
  • What does the personification in these lines contribute to the setting? How does Marlow avoid “seeing” it?
page 62 44
Page 62/44
  • “We were cut off from the comprehension of our surroundings; we glided past like phantoms, wondering and secretly appalled, as sane men would be before an enthusiastic outbreak in a madhouse. We could not understand, because we were too far and could not remember, because we were travelling in the night of first ages, of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sign – and no memories.”
  • How does this passage reflect the ideas about “remote kinship”? What does Marlow mean?
catch im page 69
“Catch ‘im” page 69/
  • Chinua Achebe has cited this scene as one of many that demonstrates the racism throughout this novella.
    • “[Conrad] projects the image of Africa as ‘the other world,’ the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilization, a place where man’s vaulted intelligence and refinement are finally mocked by triumphant bestiality…[Conrad is] a purveyor of comforting myths [and] a bloody racist…That this simple truth is glossed over in criticisms of his work is due to the fact that white racism against Africa is such a normal way of thinking that its manifestations go completely undetected.”
  • Idea of “Restraint” (71)
narrative break flash forward
Narrative Break/Flash Forward
  • The narrative breaks when Marlow believes Kurtz to be dead (79/). We also get a flashforward to his conversation with “The Intended.” How does the inclusion of these elements affect the reader’s understanding of Marlow’s story about his time in Africa? (remember, for Marlow, the “meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze…” (18)
  • You should have heard the disinterred body of Mr. Kurtz saying, “My Intended.” You would have perceived directly then how completely she was out of it. And the lofty frontal bone of Mr. Kurtz! They say the hair goes on growing sometimes, but this – ah –specimen was impressively bald. The wilderness had patted him on the head, and , behold, it was like a ball – an ivory ball; it had caressed him, and – lo! – he had withered; it had taken him, loved him, embraced him, got into his veins, consumed his flesh, and sealed his soul to its own…
  • What words stand out and what effect do they have?
while reading
While reading...
  • Mark in your text the sentences that stand out to you as particularly artful for the use of language to convey meaning.
  • Complete the activity to follow….
a look at language and syntax
A look at language and syntax:
  • “But this must have been before his – let us say – nerves went wrong, and caused him to preside at certain midnight dances ending with unspeakable rites, which – as far as I reluctantly gathered from what I heard at various times – were offered up to him – do you understand? – to Mr. Kurtz himself” (83/61)
  • How does the language and syntax support the meaning?
  • Explain the postscript in reference to the “seventeen pages of close writing” that Kurtz produced (83/).
light heart
“light heart”
  • Why?
  • Examine the description: “It appears he had persuaded a Dutch trading-house on the coast to fit him out with stores and goods, and had started for the interior with a light heart, and no more idea of what would happen to him than a baby” (89/66).
  • Why this description? What is the power in it?
shade of mr kurtz
“Shade” of Mr. Kurtz
  • “I laid the ghost of his gifts at last with a lie” (80).
  • “very little more than a voice” (80)
  • “…for the shade of Mr. Kurtz” (82)
  • Why is it appropriate for Marlow to describe Kurtz in this fashion…as an ethereal being, even after he met him?
activity with self selected passage
Activity with self-selected passage:
  • Select one of the passages that you marked that you like the most.
  • Write out the lines CLEARLY on a separate sheet of paper.


  • For the passage you are given, explain how the language of the text supports or creates the meaning of the text.
part 3
Part 3
  • Marlow says, “I looked around, and I don’t know why, but I assure you that never, never before, did this land, this river, this jungle, the very arch of this blazing sky, appear to me so hopeless and so dark, so impenetrable to human thought, so pitiless to human weakness” (91) Why does he feel this way now? Explain.
rewrite this line
Rewrite this line…
  • “The woods were unmoved, like a mask – heavy, like the closed door of a prison – they looked with their air of hidden knowledge, of patient expectation, of unapproachable silence” (93).
  • Now, analyze it. What is the effect of these images?
ornamental knobs
Ornamental knobs…
  • What is Marlow’s response to the heads on stakes, and how do you interpret it?
reread the following
Reread the following:
  • "After all, that was only a savage sight, while I seemed at one bound to have been transported into some lightless region of subtle horrors, where pure, uncomplicated savagery was a positive relief, being something that had a right to exist--obviously--in the sunshine" (95)
  • What does this sentence suggest? Examine how light and dark are used – what is the effect/meaning?
peer critique of quote analysis
Peer Critique of Quote Analysis
  • Read the analysis that a peer did on the quote that you selected.
  • Reflect on and respond to the analysis. Consider…What are your thoughts about the points that the person made. Did you have questions about the rationale behind an idea? Did he/she point out something you hadn’t considered but that they were able to support with the text?
  • Write a brief explanation of why, of all the possible quotes, this one was the one you selected.
homework due thursday 10 20
Homework due Thursday 10/20
  • Read until “When I woke up shortly after midnight…” (103/79).
  • Answer the prompts on slides 37 and 38. Slide 39 is now optional.
return to sweetheart
Return to Sweetheart…
  • Revisit the description of Mary Anne in “The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong.” Compare the description of Mary Anne to the description of Kurtz (97-98/74-75). What parallels exist?
  • What big ideas are suggested through these descriptions?
the african woman
The African Woman

"... And from right to left along the lighted shore moved a wild and gorgeous apparition of a woman.     'She walked with measured steps, draped in striped and fringed cloths, treading the earth proudly, with a slight jingle and flash of barbarous ornaments. She carried her head high; her hair was done in the shape of a helmet; she had brass leggings to the knee, brass wire gauntlets to the elbow, a crimson spot on her tawny cheek, innumerable necklaces of glass beads on her neck; bizarre things, charms, gifts of witchmen, that hung about her, glittered and trembled at every step. She must have had the value of several elephant tusks upon her. She was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent; there was something ominous and stately in her deliberate progress. And in the hush that had fallen suddenly upon the whole sorrowful land, the immense wilderness, the colossal body of the fecund and mysterious life seemed to look at her, pensive, as though it had been looking at the image of its own tenebrous and passionate soul'” (99/75-76).

  • List all the contrasting images presented in this section. What do these contrasts suggest about the woman? About the wilderness? About civilization?
marlow and kurtz
Marlow and Kurtz
  • Marlow sides with Kurtz when the manager says that Kurtz’s “method is unsound” (101/77). And, Marlow says to the manager, “that fellow – what’s his name? – the brickmaster, will make a readable report for you” (101/77). What does Marlow implying with that comment? And what is the source of Marlow’s feeling of kinship with Kurtz? Support with the text.
11 20 homework for monday
11/20 – Homework for Monday
  • Read up to “The dusk was falling…” (118/92).
  • Respond to the questions indicated on the slides.
  • Marlow proclaims, “Soul! If anybody had ever struggled with a soul, I am the man” (107/83). Marlow goes on to explain, “Being alone in the wilderness, [Kurtz’s soul] had looked within itself, and, by heavens! I tell you, it had gone mad. I had – for my sins, I suppose – to go through the ordeal of looking into it myself” (107/).
  • Interpret this moment of crisis – for Kurtz AND for Marlow.
the horror the horror
“The horror! The horror!”
  • No surprise. Kurtz dies. Marlow expects it. But, the scene of death is interesting, both in imagery and in his last lines.
  • Examine the imagery of this scene. What do you make of it? And, does it remind you of anything else in the text?
  • Why does Marlow call Kurtz’s final words “an affirmation, a moral victory” (114/88).
the drums
The drums…
  • Compare
    • “The monotonous beating of a big drum filled the air with muffled shocks and lingering vibration” (104/79)


“I confounded the beat of the drum with the beating of my heart, and was pleased at its calm regularity” (105/81)

What does this suggest? How might this explain Marlow’s line, “I did not betray Mr. Kurtz – it was ordered I should never betray him – it was written I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice. I was anxious to deal with this shadow by myself alone…” (104-105/80) [emphasis mine]. What else do you notice in this last quote?

barbarous and superb 109 84
“Barbarous and superb” (109/84)
  • Marlow describes the African woman as a living embodiment of the wilderness. Some critics have viewed her as a reflection of Freud’s id (Freud’s levels of consciousness: id – impulse driven, irrational; ego – realistic and pragmatic; super-ego – self-restrained and moralistic). What are your thoughts about this view and her function in the text? And if we are to see her as such, how does this inform the greater meaning of the text?
hw for tuesday 10 25
HW for Tuesday 10/25
  • Finish reading Heart of Darkness
  • Answer the questions on the following slide.
  • Review over your homework that was due Monday…make sure that the work reflects your best effort. Make changes as necessary.
the women1
The women
  • Compare/contrast the African woman with the Intended.
    • What is significant in the way each are described?
        • African woman: 99, 100, 109 / 75, 76, 84
        • Intended: 119-121 / 92-94
    • What do they each signify? What purpose do they serve in this novella? Consider the women, along with their surroundings, in connection to the work’s meaning as a whole.
the idea
The “Idea”
  • Reread the opening pages from “when the Romans first came here” to “What redeems it is the idea…” (18-20/6-7).
    • Connect this “idea” to the Intended’s “mature capacity for fidelity, for belief, for suffering” (119/92) and “the faith that was in her,…that great and saving illusion” (121/94).
return to the narrative frame
Return to the Narrative Frame
  • The novel concludes by returning to the narrative frame, set aboard the Nellie: the tide is now turning; the unnamed narrator observes that "the tranquil waterway [the Thames]" seems now "to lead into the heart of an immense darkness" (124). Marlow is described as sitting " the pose of a meditating Buddha" (123).
  • Do you think Marlow has achieved some sort of enlightenment?
  • Now that you, too, have experienced Marlow's story, revisit and reinterpret the unnamed narrator's description of where the meaning lies of one of Marlow's tales on p. 18. What, for you, seem to be the meaning(s) of Heart of Darkness?
reread the hollow men by t s eliot
Reread “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot
  • After reading Heart of Darkness, what do you understand about the poem?
  • What is the “shadow”?
  • Explain how particular lines / structure help develop overall meaning.
  • - How does this poem reflect the ideas in The Great Gatsby?
  • White/black imagery: examine the usage of color. When does it seem to fit the traditional role of white=good and black=bad? When is it reversed?
marlow as narrator
Marlow, as narrator
  • What do you make of Marlow so far? Of the opinions he shares, of his uncertainty, of his tone?
copy the following quote into your notes3
Copy the following quote into your notes

“The great wall of vegetation, an exuberant and entangled mass of trunks, branches, leaves, boughs, festoons, motionless in the moonlight, was like a rioting invasion of soundless life, a rolling wave of plants, piled up, crested, ready to topple over the creek, to sweep every little man of us out of his little existence” (54/36).

Now analyze it…what is going on and how does it support the ideas presented in the book?