Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Part III, Section 1 Summary (pages 123-134)

The Russian relates how Kurtz spent much time talking to him. Marlow learns that Kurtz had spent time wandering through the forest in search of ivory, and eventually raided the villages he discovered with the help of a tribe he'd befriended. Kurtz had even threatened to shoot the Russian if he did not hand over a small amount of ivory given him as a gift by the chief of one village. The Russian continues, telling Marlow that after an absence, Kurtz had returned with more village warriors, intent on further raiding, but fell ill yet again. As they talk, Marlow scans the hut with his binoculars and discovers that the fence posts encircling it are actually human heads on stakes. The Russian is quick to justify the heads, saying they are the heads of rebels, at which point Marlow scoffs.

Some men emerge carrying a very sick Kurtz out of the hut on an improvised stretcher, intent on taking him back. Natives—naked and armed—rush from the cover of the jungle because they don't want Kurtz to leave. Kurtz orders them back into the jungle and they retreat. Kurtz is brought to a cabin and Marlow hears Kurtz arguing that his plans are being interrupted and that he will return. The manager emerges from the cabin and consults with Marlow, saying Kurtz acted in an "unsound" manner. Marlow responds, "Nevertheless I think Kurtz is a remarkable man" (134). This comment puts Marlow out of favor with the manager.

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