Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

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In Heart of Darkness, what is significant about this quote?: "The word 'ivory' hung in the air. You would think they were praying to it."

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Marlowe speaks this line about his first impressions of the Central Station after meeting its manager, who is concerned about Kurtz’s illness and the “very grave” situation at his station. He has only recently arrived in the Congo and is on his way upriver. He briefly lists some manufactured goods that went inland—low-quality cotton fabric, beads, and wire—to be exchanged for “a precious trickle of ivory.” All around the station, the activity is geared toward bringing out the ivory. Both the accountant he had met earlier and the manager praise Kurtz as the Company’s best agent.

Wandering around while he figures out his next steps, as he must figure out to get his wrecked boat repaired, he is struck by the chaotic atmosphere . He says the scene is the “most unreal thing” he has ever seen. Marlowe cannot readily determine what each man’s responsibility is because there are no obvious signs of organized activity. The men are strolling or wandering around the yard. He...

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