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However, Conrad’s narrator relates the atrocities committed against the people of Africa without ever fully conveying the ultimate bitter truth of colonialism: that those inhuman horrors were made possible because even people who did not directly profit from Africa’s exploitation (and who otherwise might have protested or worked against it) bought into racist political and nationalist narratives.Can a book portray racism through the eyes of a racist character without itself being racist?We must help them to stay in that beautiful world of their own, lest ours gets worse.
And that moment of slight kindness highlights the protagonist’s lazy racism: he documents the blatant injustices that are clear to his privileged European eyes, but he never thinks to try to do anything of substance to help the Africans he sees suffering around him.
He never even thinks to make sure that the native crewmembers working in service to his captaincy have anything to eat on their journey down the Congo (Conrad 111).
Some confounded fact we men have been living contentedly with ever since the day of creation would start up and knock the whole thing over.
(Conrad 77) They— the women, I mean— are out of it— should be out of it.
And what I found was a narrative in which practically nobody (African or European) is portrayed in a positive light.
Marlow objectifies the few female European characters, and through that objectification, Conrad uses them mostly as symbols instead of portraying them as real people: She seemed uncanny and fateful.
They live in a world of their own, and there had never been anything like it, and never can be.
It is too beautiful altogether, and if they were to set it up it would go to pieces before the first sunset.
Nothing in that passage would lead a reader to believe that the Africans Marlow has encountered are essentially human.
In the following sentences, Marlow experiences a fit of basic decency and gives the dying young man a biscuit to eat (again, as he might feed a starving dog back on familiar European streets).