Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no Joy in the brilliance of sunshine. The long stretches of the water-way ran on, deserted, into the gloom of over-shadowed distances.
On silvery sand-banks hippos and alligators sunned themselves side by side. The broadening waters flowed wrought a mob of wooded Islands; you lost your way on that river as you would In a desert, and butted all day long against shoals, trying to find the channel, till you thought yourself bewitched and cut off for ever from everything you had known once somewhere far away in another existence perhaps.
There were moments when one’s past came back to one, as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare for yourself; but It came In the shape of an unrest and noisy dream, remembered with wonder amongst the overwhelming realities of this strange world f plants, and water, and silence. 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. It looked at you with a vengeful aspect. I got used to it afterwards; I did not see it any more; I had no time. Ad to keep guessing at the channel; I had to discern, mostly by inspiration, the signs of hidden banks; I watched for sunken stones; I was learning to clap my teeth smartly before my heart flew out, when I shaved by a fluke some Infernal sly old snag that would have ripped the life UT of the tin-pot steamboat and drowned all the pilgrims; I had to keep a lookout for the signs of dead wood we could cut up in the night for next day’s steaming. When you have to attend to things of that sort, to the mere incidents of the surface, the reality the reality, I tell you fades. The inner truth is hidden luckily, luckily.
But I felt It all the same; I felt often Its mysterious stillness watching me at my monkey tricks, Just as It watches you fellows performing on your respective tight-ropes for what Is It? Half-a-crown a tumble ” “Try to be civil, Marrow,” growled a voice, and I new there was at least one listener awake besides myself. Guiding Questions 1) How does Marrow introduce the concept of ‘reality in this extract? 2) How does the repeated use of the first person singular contribute to the tone in this extract Through this extract, Joseph Conrad introduces the Idea of two realities.
The formation of these realties Is a product of Marrows different character and had been propagating. This commentary will follow a thematic analysis that will look at characterization of Marrow as one who is able to look past the mist that obscures he truth and the actual reality of the actions of the Company in the Congo Basin followed by the idea of the realities that Marrow constructs due to his unique perspective. Like the rest of the book, this extract is written in form of an extended monologue and a narrative. The extract is description heavy and all flora and fauna take on a mysterious and hostile facade.
The extract also describes Marrows dangerous and dark Journey through the river of Congo. The gloomy mood instills a sense of solitude, “this strange world of plants, and water, and silence”, that results in he nostalgia that Marrow feels. Marrow describes the Journey. “There was no Joy in the brilliance of sunshine,” he says. He is disturbed by the primeval nature within Inch he finds himself. He is isolated and feels “cut off for ever from everything had known once – somewhere – far away – in another existence perhaps.
Marrow, as shown throughout the text, is a character who has a unique perspective, one that allows him to question what he sees around him and actually look past the mist that surrounds the actions of the Company. This unique viewpoint is the culmination of he intense alienation and isolation he feels that doesn’t allow him to form a connection with the people around him. This alienation is emphasized in this extract by the continuous usage of the first person singular, which clearly demarcates Marrow from the people around him on the steamer.
Marrows biggest realization is that the human civilization is no longer part of his existence. All around him was still and quiet, “on silvery sand-banks hippos and alligators sunned themselves side by side”, but despite the seemingly idealistic setting, the setting provides neither the pace for contemplation nor any peace to Marrow. The stillness was instead, “an Implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention. ” This “intention”, while ‘inscrutable” is offensive. It presented itself to Marrow “with a vengeful aspect. However Marrow realizes that the “vengeful aspect” of nature is simply a matter of his perception due to the steamer is sailing on. Nature by itself has no relation to the traps that Marrow comes across. Whereas without the others aboard helping him he seems to be concentrating on his survival than on the of his surroundings. L did not see it any more; I had no time,” he says. In order to survive, he must stop being afraid and start taking charge of the situation, to whatever extent he can.
He must stay on track, stay away from shallows and flats, escape rocks, watch out for “some infernal sly old snag”, all of which could destroy his “tin-pot steamboat” and drown all the pilgrims. The fact that Marrow does not mention the pilgrims anywhere else accentuates his feeling of isolation. It also hints at the world where ‘vegetation rioted the earth” rather than human existence. The absence also enforces the fact that Marrow was not a part of the people he was carrying along Ninth him. He was distinct. His concerns and his desires were distinct from theirs.
Nile they floated along, carried on by their greed and cruelty, and therefore blind to the forces and the splendor around them, Marrow was intensely aware of his surroundings and aware also of the fact that within that surrounding he was small and helpless. He was a small and helpless fighter who had to be on his toes at all times in order to survive the magnitude, the vengeance, and the indifference of the ere incidents of the surface, the reality – the reality, I tell you – faces. The inner truth is hidden – luckily, luckily. Because of Marrows unique character, he is able to look past the mist and get to the truth, which results in the formation of two realities. One reality is the immediate surroundings of the river and the forest around Marrow, and the second more obscure reality is the internal reality about the lie of enlightenment that the Company people have been propagating in Europe. Marrow uses the immediate reality of him steering the steamer to escape from the brutalities f the other reality. By immersing himself in the dangers of the tangible reality, he saves himself from confronting the ugly truths that he has come across in the Congo.
These truths include the fact that the Company has in fact not been doing anything Unworthily in the Congo etc. Another important aspect of this extract is the characterization of the Congo Basin as an untamed, savage and at the same time primeval place. This has a twofold impact: on the one hand, it is closer to the natural state with peace between man and nature, but also unsophisticated and uncultured. He first state has been used detrimentally by the Company, who are bent upon harnessing the power of Nature thus creating conflict between man and nature, as emphasized throughout the novella.
The second state has been used as the reason that the Company is in the Congo in the first place- in efforts to bring this “Other” closer to culture and enlightenment. The Journey up the river is full of threatened disasters, but none of them comes to pass, thanks to Marrows skill; the most explosive potential conflict arises from an act of eavesdropping. The stillness and lenience surrounding this single steamer full of Europeans in the midst of the vast African continent provoke in Marrow an attitude of restless watchfulness: he feels as if he has “no time” and must constantly “discern, mostly by inspiration, signs. In this Nay, his piloting a steamboat along a treacherous river comes to symbolize his finding his way through a world of conspiracies, mysteries, and inaccessible black faces. The reality that comes across can be interpreted in many ways. The reality of the arrogant civilization, the reality of how Marrow feels that these sailors were thing but “monkeys performing on their respective tight ropes” or the reality of the cruelty of the Company.
Like the rest of the book, this extract is written in form of an extended monologue and a narrative. The extract is description heavy and all flora and fauna take on a mysterious and hostile facade. Marrow describes the Journey. ‘There was no Joy in the brilliance of sunshine,” he says. He is disturbed by the primeval nature within which he finds himself.