“I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable grayness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamor, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid skepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary” (Conrad 178).
Conrad, Joseph, and Cedric Watts. “The Heart of Darkness: Part III.” Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. Rev. ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.
This passage stands as an example of why this story is a modern piece. There is perhaps no better way to explain the reality of death. Conrad explains death as it is in this passage and ultimately, that is nothing very spectacular. This is also an example of delayed specification of referents because he takes so long to tell you that death is not virtuous or exciting. He actually never says those words but that’s what he’s getting at, he just takes so long to explain death.