Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

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Why does Marlow go to the Congo and why is he so obsessed with meeting Kurtz?

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Marlow wants to go to the Congo because he has always been obsessed with the river. When he was little, he used to peer at maps, and the Congo, which resembled a snake that had uncoiled itself, was particularly enticing to him. The shape of the river fascinated him, and he admired it to the point of obsession, he recalls, in the same way that a snake would fascinate a small bird. He seems to imply that he is intrigued by the river's darkness and unknown lengths.

Marlow becomes obsessed with Kurtz when he learns that Kurtz, who was approaching the ivory company's headquarters, instead turned back and headed 300 miles into the jungle. Marlow can't imagine why Kurtz would turn his back on the safety of home, and he wonders why Kurtz returned to the heart of darkness. When Marlow finds out Kurtz is dead, he is incredibly disappointed, as he had yearned to speak with Kurtz about his motives for returning to the heart of darkness.

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At the beginning of his story, Marlow tells his crew that as a boy...

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