Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

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In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, discuss Marlow’s attitudes toward the natives. What do they mean to him?

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Initially, Marlow doesn't really think much about indigenous Africans. He's going to the Congo for purely selfish reasons—to make money exploiting the natives—so he doesn't regard them as anything more than a cash cow. There's a lot of money to be made out in the so-called Dark Continent exploring Africans, and Marlow's determined to grab his share.

After arriving in Africa, however, Marlow starts to see Africans in a completely different light. Wherever he looks, he cannot help but notice that the indigenous people are chained and enslaved, treated like animals by their colonial overlords. Though it's unlikely that Marlow has suddenly been converted into a firm believer in racial equality, he does at least see the native Africans as human beings rather than objects to be exploited, which is how most of his fellow colonialists see them.

In one particularly striking passage, Marlow is struck by an unforgettable sight as he travels up the Congo. As he sees some African men paddling, he...

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