Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Part I, Section 3 Summary (pages 75-91)

Marlow departs deeper into the jungle with sixty men on a two-hundred-mile journey to the Central Station. The villages along the paths are abandoned. The faint sound of drums can be heard on quiet nights, which Marlow likens to " 'the sound of bells in a Christian country' " (76). Marlow's caravan comes upon an intoxicated white man who says he's looking after the upkeep of the paths, though has really done little more than murder an indigenous person whom Marlow discovers farther up the path. Marlow argues with the native workers in his employ when they must carry another white man who becomes ill. Marlow recalls the doctor's interest in his psyche and the effects of the jungle environment on it.

Marlow arrives at the central station and meets some Company workers—" 'white men with long staves' " (77), one of whom informs Marlow that the steamer he is to pilot has sunk. Marlow then goes to meet the manager, who makes him uneasy, and whose forte seems to be his ability to avoid illness. He learns from the manager that Kurtz has fallen ill. The manager explains that fixing the steamer is an urgent manner and gives Marlow three months to accomplish this task.

Marlow goes to work on the steamer and observes the idleness and inefficiency of the Company men, whom he describes as "faithless pilgrims bewitched inside a rotten fence" (80). Marlow meets the brick maker, and sees an oil painting in his possession painted by Kurtz. Marlow realizes the manager and brick-maker are both upset by Kurtz's success within the Company. The original narrator breaks in to describe they are sitting in pitch darkness and listening to Marlow, whose tale makes the narrator uneasy.

Marlow continues his tale, recounting the absurd inefficacy of the Company and giving his opinions about labor and what it produces. Marlow becomes acquainted with the foreman. Marlow expects rivets to arrive, but they do not. Arriving instead is a five-part caravan called the Eldorado Exploring Expedition, which Marlow views as little more than a group of bandits, and the leader of which is the manager's uncle.