In Heart of Darkness, what does the director say and what does it mean?Well, my teacher asked us this question about the book Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, and I have no idea what she is...

In Heart of Darkness, what does the director say and what does it mean?

Well, my teacher asked us this question about the book Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, and I have no idea what she is talking about. If you could help that would be very much appreciated!

3 Answers | Add Yours

cybil's profile pic

cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

The Director's remark about "missing the ebb" refers to the tide going out. The Nellie is at anchor as the men waiting for the tide to go out so that they can sail. Having missed the "first of the ebb," their "offing is barred"; they aren't sailing that day.

Because everyone is either engrossed in Marlow's story or falls asleep, a possibility offered by the narrator, the men have ignored the tide and the time. Darkness has fallen, so the novel ends as it began--with darkness.

kmieciakp's profile pic

kmieciakp | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted on

"'We have lost the first of the ebb,' said the director suddenly."

The director's words fall after Marlow finishes his story but before the narrator ends the novel.  So the director's words take up the narrative after Marlow dwells too much on Kurtz and loses his voice: "dead short" suggests that Kurtz, "short," has consumed Marlow.  On seeing Marlow fall, the director, originally described as a savior figure: "our host" and "resembels a pilot," emerges as a savior--the director's practical statement jolts the men from their imaginations and lets them see a practical problem with the river--gives them something other than Marlow's narrative to think about.  

Though Marlow's narrative does flow like the rushing and dangerous shallow water at the end of the ebb from high tide to low tide,  the director's words take the river out of the men's imaginations and allow the men to see the river and its darkenss as something outside of them.  So the director's words suggest that our use of words are powerful things--we can use them either to plunge us into the dark or to keep us at the surface.

kmieciakp's profile pic

kmieciakp | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted on

"'We have lost the first of the ebb,' said the director suddenly."

The director's words fall after Marlow finishes his story but before the narrator ends the novel.

We’ve answered 318,993 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question