” ‘No Melanctha, I ain’t no common nigger to do so, for I was raised by white folks. You know very well Melanctha that I’se always been engaged to them.’ “(Stein 49)
I am fascinated with the labeling between black and white communities in this book. Just in the first few pages, the text provides examples such as “negro world” and “negro sunshine”(47). It seems to continues as far as I’ve read with other examples such as “negro fashion”(53). For the sentence I quoted, it’s interesting to see that Rose Johnson validates her actions by claiming having been raised by “white folks”. The language lends itself to the idea of segregation by providing these crudely blunt labels.
Stein, Gertrude. Three Lives. New York: The Grafton Press, 2011. Print.
“It had ceased to be a blank space of delightful mystery–a white patch for a boy to dream gloriously over. It had become a place of darkness. But there was in it one river especially, a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land” (Conrad 108).
Conrad often alludes to “darkness” throughout the novel, as evident in this passage at the beginning of the novel. The darkness may be referring to an individual darkness within a person, or in this case, an unexplored primitive setting. Conrad often appears to depict Africa in such a manner, making it clear as to why many critics question whether or not his writing is considered racist.
Conrad, Joseph, and Cedric Thomas. Watts. Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990. Print.
“Mind, none of us would feel exactly like this. What saves us is efficiency—the devotion to efficiency. But these chaps were not much account, really. They were no colonists; their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing more, I suspect. They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force—nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind—as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it’s the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea.” (chapter 1, paragraph 13)
Originally I believed that Marlow did not consider the colonists to be negative in any way. However, he quickly contradicts his notion that the colonists are simply bringing civilization to the other races. Now it appears that Marlow believes the colonists are only concerned with the potential profit and conquering the different race of people.
“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. `And, ever since, you have been with him, of course?’ I said”
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. “Heart of Darkness”, 165. Oxford: Oxford NY, 2002.
The thing that seems to Marlow the bleakest is not the suffering of the Africans, but the way that the Russian is enthralled by Kurtz.