Heart of Darkness: Group 4: The Truth


  1. Using the link above, locate the passage that begins “’Absurd!” he cried. ‘This is the worst of trying to tell….’” and ends with “They—the women, I mean—are out of it—should be out of it.”
  2. Read the passage and answer the following question: Why does Marlow believe that women should be prevented from knowing the truth? What is the truth that he thinks they shouldn’t know?

4 Replies to “Heart of Darkness: Group 4: The Truth”

  1. In this passage Marlow is clearly upset stating “Here you all are, each moored with two good addresses, like a hulk with two anchors, a butcher round one corner, a policeman round another, excellent appetites, and temperature normal—you hear—normal from year’s end to year’s end” so he is ranting on about how even though they are in the primitive land everything about them is normal and fine, healthy and he doesn’t understand how they have kept their englishness intact in Africa after being in it for so long. He then explains that woman should be left out and kept in their beautiful world. So maybe what Marlow is saying that he doesn’t want change and wants to keep the purity and ‘normality’ he has always know in England ‘protected’ and he is using woman as cover to remain the pure reliable England he has always known. The truth that the woman shouldn’t know is how Africa hasn’t converted them into savages like they once believed, no they have remained the same and have had good health and more.

  2. Marlow believes this because it is woman that he feels as though is the few things that reminds him from home. They are not seen as savages in Africa because of their beauty and pureness and he wishes to keep it that way because the darkness of Africa has engulfed much of what he has come to know as “normal”. In preventing the women from knowing the truth that Kurtz embodies, Marlow feels as though he is protecting them from the truth.

  3. The Hidden Truth

    Marlow believes that women should be prevented from knowing the truth because it is a horrifying and ugly truth. What occurs in Africa is extremely upsetting, even to the Europeans. He describes everything as “absurd” and he is amazed that he “did not shed tears.” He is also overwhelmed at the voices and he describes them as “atrocious” and “savage.” Marlow believes that women should not know the truth because it would upset and horrify them too much. Hearing Kurtz talk about everything is upsetting, even without having to witness Africa firsthand, so Marlow decides that women should not know anything about what goes on. It is better for them to live in the illusion that Europeans go into to Africa to perform gracious deeds and “help” the “savages” transform into the “civilized” standards of English people. The women should retain their positive vision, the vision containing no horror or upsetting imagery and voices. It would only upset the women for them to know about the “nervousness” and unpleasant things that actually occur. As long as women do not know the truth of what happens in Africa, meaning they do not know how the Africans are treated or how the English men handle themselves there, then the women will continue to support English men’s African endeavors and they will continue to view England as a savior of the savages.

  4. In this passage, Marlow believes that women should be prevented from knowing the truth because he wants to hide the absurdity and darkness within the truth. Women represent a sense of purity because of their whiteness and naivety, as Marlow views it. Therefore, he wants to maintain a sense of normalcy by preventing women from understanding the lawless darkness of Africa. Women are meant to be unchanging representatives of the normalcy of England, so if they were to be told the truth of Africa and the darkness that comes with depravity and inhumanity, the society that Marlow desperately wants to return to would be altered. By acknowledging the existence of the darkness within the truth, Marlow solidifies it as truth, so by leaving the women without knowledge, he will be able to return to a world before he was exposed to the darkness, thereby giving him an escape from the truth.

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