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As you read Heart of Darkness


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									                               AP Literature and Composition
                      As you read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
Directions: Write the titles of the following sections in your book:
       Section I – “Toward the Heart of Darkness”
       Section II – “In the Heart of Darkness”
       Section III – “Out of the Heart of Darkness”
Please answer the following questions as you read Heart of Darkness. This assignment will
be a Test Grade that is due on Monday, November 21st (“A” Day) or Tuesday, November
22nd (“B” Day).

1.    Identify 9 specific details that point to the futility (the quality of being futile/ineffective/not
     successful) of the European presence in Africa. [Find 3 in each of the three sections of the

2. Heart of Darkness is a frame story (a secondary story or stories embedded in the main story;
a narrative providing the framework for connecting a series of otherwise unrelated stories; the
frame story leads readers from the first story into the smaller one within it). Discuss why
Conrad would use the frame story structure for this novel. In what way does this structure
contribute to or enhance the meaning of the work as a whole (the themes)? An unnamed
narrator begins the story on the deck of the Nellie in London on the Thames River. Identify
every time there is a shift between this narrator and Marlow who narrates most of the
story. (Marlow is one of the characters sitting on the deck of the Nellie.)

3. Conrad often reverses the traditional symbolism of black and white. Find two examples
   where he uses traditional symbolism, and four examples where white symbolizes evil and
   black good.

4. Conrad often writes of how scenes appear – or what they seem to be. Find three examples
   where he refers to a person, place, or object using this conflict – the conflict of illusion
   versus reality. (seems, appears, looks like, etc.)

5.    Find four references to work in Heart of Darkness. These will be explicit references to work
     or labor . . . usually by Marlow, and then provide a statement that explains Marlow’s position on
     the value of work. Be prepared to tell what Conrad suggests about work—what conclusion
     can you draw from these references.

6. Nigeria novelist, Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart), in a lecture at the University of
   Massachusetts, attacked Heart of Darkness as “racist” and had this to say about the novella:
      “(Conrad) projects the image of Africa as ‘the other world,’ the antithesis of Europe and
      therefore of civilization, a place where man’s vaulted intelligence and refinement are
      finally mocked by triumphant bestiality . . . Conrad is a purveyor of comforting myths
      (and) a bloody racist . . . That this simple truth is glossed over in criticisms of his work is
      due to the fact that white racism against Africa is such a normal way of thinking that its
      manifestations go completely undetected.” Find five specific points that you would use
      to defend this statement OR five specific references that you would use to refute this

7. Compare and contrast the native woman who is apparently Kurtz’s lover (pp.142-144) with
Kurtz’s “intended” back in Europe. What general attitudes about women are being expressed,
and how do those attitudes fit into the novel as a whole?

8. Pick three of the following motifs (recurring images and/or ideas) and find at least five
references to each. List the page reference and then discuss how the motif operates within the
context of the novel as a whole. The motifs you are to select from are: savages, grass, rivets,
jungle, river, huts, disease, progress, madness, civilization, light, efficiency, death images
(bones/skulls/heads on stakes).

9. Cite and discuss in some detail three instances when a character’s assumptions played a
critical role in how that character acted or perceived someone else’s actions.

10. Respond to Kurtz’s final utterance. What is “the horror” to which he refers, and why are
these words the final words he speaks?


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