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When the natives begin to attack Marlow's boat, he orders the helmsman to steer the boat straight. Instead, the helmsman abandons the steering wheel and foolishly grabs a gun, intent on firing at the attackers. When he opens a shutter to fire, he is fatally wounded by a spear and falls to the floor of the boat. The boat in the meantime has erratically drifted into the shoreline, even closer to the attackers. Marlow must correct their course before he can attend to the helmsman's body, which he later tosses overboard, fearing the hungry cannibals onboard may see as food. Marlow also throws overboard his shoes that were filled with the helmsman's blood in a symbolic gesture indicating his new understanding of the dangerous territory he has now entered as well as his growing awareness of the "heart of darkness."
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