Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

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Why does Conrad have Marlow chat on the deck of the Nellie with such distinguished friends as the Director, the Lawyer, and the Accountant?

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Conrad uses a frame technique to present Marlow's story. An unnamed narrator opens the book and describes the men aboard the Nellie. Then Charlie Marlow tells his story. His listeners, the men you note, are all former men of the sea themselves and would therefore be interested in Marlow's journey as a steamboat captain up the Congo River. Secondly, these men are all professionals; telling them his story gives Marlow's tale greater status. He's not merely sharing an adventure; he's telling them about a life-changing experience he had and a remarkable man he encountered--not to mention a number of other memorable characters he met. If Marlow were just taking to a group of regular sailors on a ship or a group of ordinary men in a pub, his story would not seem as important. These friends know him well; they grasp the magnitude of his narrative. They appreciate his method of telling the story with sophistication and honesty. 

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