Heart of Darkness

Work and Faith in "Heart of Darkness"

Early on in Marlow's journey to the heart of the Congo, he encounters the chief accountant for the Company; later, he and his crew find an abandoned hut, formerly occupied by a "white man." In these two scenes, Conrad puts forth a series of contrasts that resonate with larger themes in the text: his philosophies of work and faith. The Accountant, whose village teems with many forms of life and death, proves to be a touchstone for each of Marlow's subsequent encounters. It is here that Marlow first hears of the "very remarkable person" that is Kurtz, and here that Marlow begins to form the basis of Conrad's core credo that when everything "is gone you must fall back upon your own innate strength, upon your own capacity for faithfulness" (123; 148). Marlow gains an understanding of this "capacity" precisely because he first observes devout adherence to a European ideal in the accountant, and then later sees the remnants of an ostensibly similar man who has been left to his own devices in the deep jungle.

The accountant resides at a station that is far removed from the turmoil and chaos of the inner station, but is nonetheless in a place overrun by great...

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