This this way for the sole purpose

This particular passage highlights the
motif of Marlow’s obsession with Kurtz. This is prevalent throughout the entire
novel– starting at the moment that Kurtz is introduced, Marlow has desired to
meet this mysterious figure. Marlow’s more specific obsession with Kurtz’s
voice is established when his native helmsman is killed by a spear thrown from
the riverbank. His death causes Marlow to think that Kurtz must have also died
in the attack, “I suppose Mr. Kurtz is
dead as well by this time… For the moment that was the dominant thought.”
(Conrad, HOD). Seeing how this was the dominant thought that crosses Marlow’s
mind, he shows very little regard for the unnamed helmsman’s life. The man is inconsequential
in comparison to what Kurtz means for Marlow. He quickly forgets about the
death as thoughts of never meeting Kurtz crosses his mind again. “There was a sense of extreme disappointment,
as though I had found out I had been striving after something altogether
without a substance. I couldn’t have been more disgusted if I had traveled all
this way for the sole purpose of talking with Mr. Kurtz.” In this line of
thought, Marlow tells the reader that the act of talking to Kurtz is the sole
purpose in his journey. He experiences sadness and disappointment when he beleives
he’ll never get the chance to speak to Kurtz. The paragraph continues as Marlow
realizes this, “Talking with. . .  I … became aware that that was exactly what I
had been looking forward to—a talk with Kurtz. I made the strange discovery
that I had never imagined him as doing, you know, but as discoursing. I didn’t
say to myself, ‘Now I will never see him,’ or ‘Now I will never shake him by
the hand,’ but, ‘Now I will never hear him.’ The man presented himself as a
voice.” Marlow was not looking forward about seeing Kurtz face to face, or
shaking his hand, rather he is keener on hearing Kurtz talk. Kurtz only exists
to Marlow as a voice, which develops the image of him as a spiritual guidance
for Marlow. Because of his deep fixation, hearing Kurtz speak has become the
destination of his journey. Marlow’s voice is vital in developing the narrative
of the book, and in this sense, the way readers listen to Marlow parallels how Marlow
listens to Kurtz’s voice. Conrad drives this point home, showing that without narrative
discourse, these characters and their stories would not exist.

In the majority of the novel, Marlow
doesn’t meet Kurtz but only hears Kurtz’s voice via other people’s thoughts and
stories. “Not of course that I did not
connect him with some sort of action. Hadn’t I been told in all the tones of
jealousy and admiration that he had collected, bartered, swindled, or stolen
more ivory than all the other agents together?” When other people talk
about Kurtz, they characterize him as an admirable and very successful ivory
agent, despite the immoral ways he goes about gaining it. However, all the
tales of his success is insignificant compared to Marlow’s interest in seeing
what Kurtz has to say. “That was not the
point. The point was in his being a gifted creature, and that of all his gifts
the one that stood out pre-eminently, that carried with it a sense of real
presence, was his ability to talk, his words—the gift of expression, the
bewildering, the illuminating, the most exalted and the most contemptible, the
pulsating stream of light, or the deceitful flow from the heart of an
impenetrable darkness.” The idea of light and dark couples with Kurtz’s
charisma and deceit. His words can either be interpreted as good and enlightening
to some, or as a flow of deceit and lies
originating from the “heart of darkness”, demonstrating that Kurtz is a dark
voice. The alternating shades of light and dark suggests the good and evil of white
Europeans vs the natives; embodied by Kurtz’s double-natured reputation as both
a godlike and corrupt being. 

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