Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

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What does the part in which Marlow wonders why the savages (30 to 5) do not eat them tell us about the narrator's attitude towards it and the world? It is the part which begins when he says: "why in the name of all gnawing devils of hunger they didn't go for us - they were thirty to five - and have a good tuck-in for once, amazes me now when i think of it." What does it tell us about the world depicted in the novel an Conrad's attitude towards it?

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First of all, Marlow is surprised that even though the cannibals have run out of food, they do not attack and eat the white men aboard the boat--amazing, he thinks, because the cannibals definitely outnumber the whites. What he comes to realize is that the cannibals demonstrate restraint , a quality he greatly admires, a quality he did not expect to find in "savages." Ironically, these cannibals show restraint, but the "civilized" whites do not. When the boat is attacked, the whites fire their guns wildly into the bush, even though they don't see any targets. Their actions are reminiscent of the shots fired by the French warship that Marlow witnessed on his journey to the Congo, just useless...

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