Tuesday, July 13, 2010

kurdish dictionaries

Saturday, May 22, 2010

the old man and the sea page summery

Summary and Analysis of Pages 1-28
Part I: The Old Man and the Boy (through pg. 28)
Please Note: The Old Man and the Sea is written as one text without breaks. Please refer to the page numbers and to the edition used to keep track of our divisions.
There is an old fisherman, Santiago, in Cuba who has gone eighty-four days without a catch. He is "thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck,...and his hands had deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords. But none of these scars were fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert" (10). Santiago's lack of success, though, does not destroy his spirit, and he has "cheerful and undefeated" eyes (10). He has a single friend, a boy named Manolin, who helped him during the first forty days of his dryspell. After forty days, though, Manolin's parents decide the old man is unlucky and order their son to join another boat. Despite this, though, the boy helps the old man to bring in his empty boat every day.
After earning money on the other boat, Manolin asks Santiago if he can return to the old man's service. Santiago refuses the boy, telling him to mind his parents and stay with the successful boat. Manolin offers to fetch sardines for the old man, an offer which Santiago first refuses and then accepts. Hemingways tells us that "He, [Santiago], was too simple to wonder when he had attained humility. But he knew he had attained it and he knew it was not disgraceful and it carried no loss of true pride" (14).
Santiago tells Manolin that tomorrow he will go out far in the Gulf to fish. Manolin responds that he will try to keep his own ship near Santiago's so that he can help the old man pull in his catch. The two gather Santiago's things from his boat and go to the old man's house. His house is very simple with a bed, table, and chair on a dirt floor. There are also religious pictures and a tinted photograph on the wall, relics of his wife. At the house the two rehearse a nightly ritual of speaking about fictitious rice and a net. Santiago then pulls out a paper and the two discuss baseball, speaking with great enthusiasm of Joe DiMaggio. Manolin leaves the house and Santiago falls asleep.
When Manolin returns, he wakes Santiago. The two eat the food the boy has brought. During the course of the meal, the boy realizes the squalor in which the old man lives and reminds himself to bring the old man a shirt, shoes, a jacket, and a blanket for the coming winter. The two talk baseball again, focusing as usual on Joe DiMaggio. Speaking about great baseball stars, the boy calls the old man the greatest fisherman. Santiago accepts the compliment but denies the truth of Manolin's statement, remarking that he know better fisherman than himself. The boy then leaves to be woken in the morning by the old man. Santiago sleeps.
Santiago dreams of Africa, where he traveled as a shipmate in his youth. "He lived along that coast now every night and in his dreams he head the surf roar and saw the native boats come riding through it....He dreamed of places now and lions on the beach" (24). The old man wakes and retrieves the boy from his house. The two take the old man's supplies from his shack to his boat and enjoy coffee at an early morning place that serves fisherman. The boy leaves to fetch the sardines for the old man. When he returns, he wishes the old man luck, and Santiago goes out to sea.
"There isn't any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know."
Ernest Hemingway, 1952
Despite Hemingway's express admonition against interpretation, The Old Man and the Sea has been a favorite subject of literary criticism throughout the half-century since it was published. As the enduring interest in the text might indicate, there are a variety of different readings of the novella. It has, for instance, been read as a Christian allegory, a Nietzschean parable of overcoming, a Freudian dream of Oedipal wish-fulfillment, and a Humanistic saga of triumph in the face of absurdity. In light of these radical disagreements in opinion, the following analysis will not attempt to present a fully-consistent, authoritative interpretation of The Old Man and the Sea. Rather, it will elaborate a diversity of viewpoints, endeavoring to represent the novella's rich history in our modern literary consciousness.
The first sentence of the book announces itself as Hemingway's: "He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish" (9). The words are plain, and the structure, two tightly-worded independent clauses conjoined by a simple conjunction, is ordinary, traits which characterize Hemingway's literary style. While in other works this economy of language is used to convey the immediacy of experience, Hemingway's terseness is heightened here to the point of rendering much of the prose empty on one level and pregnant with meaning on the other; that is, the sentences tend to lose their particular connection to reality but at the same time attain a more general, symbolic character, much like the effect of poetry. Hemingway's style, then, helps explain why so many commentators view his novella more as a fable than as fiction.
The use of the number forty in the next sentence is the first of many religious allusions in the novella. We are told that after forty days‹the length of time it took Christ to subdue Satan in the desert‹Manolin's parents decided that "the old man was now and definitely salao, which is the worst form of unlucky" (9). This sentence proclaims one of the novel's themes, the heroic struggle against unchangeable fate. Indeed, the entire first paragraph emphasizes Santiago's apparent lack of success. For example, "It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty." And most powerfully, "The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat" (9).
This type of descriptive degradation of Santiago continues with details of his old, worn body. Even his scars, legacies of past successes, are "old as erosions in a fishless desert" (10). All this changes suddenly, though, when Hemingway says masterfully, "Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated" (10). This draws attention to a dichotomy between two different types of success: outer, material success and inner, spiritual success. While Santiago clearly lacks the former, the import of this lack is eclipsed by his possession of the later. This triumph of indefatigable spirit over exhaustible material resources is another important theme of the novel. Also, Santiago's eye color foreshadows Hemingway's increasingly explicit likening of Santiago to the sea, suggesting an analogy between Santiago's indomitable spirit and the sea's boundless strength.
The relationship between Santiago and Manolin can be summed up in one sentence: "The old man had taught the boy to fish and the boy loved him" (10). Manolin is Santiago's apprentice, but their relationship is not restricted to business alone. Manolin idolizes Santiago‹as we are meant to‹but the object of this idolization is not only the once great though presently failed fisherman; it is an idolization of ideals. This helps explain Manolin's unique, almost religious, devotion to the old man, underscored when Manolin begs Santiago's pardon for his not fishing with the old man anymore. Manolin says, "It was Papa made me leave. I am a boy and I must obey him," to which Santiago replies, "I know....It is quite normal. He hasn't much faith" (10).
Despite the clear hierarchy of this teacher/student relationship, Santiago does stress his equality with the boy. When Manolin asks to buy the old man a beer, Santiago replies, "Why not?...Between fisherman" (11). And when Manolin asks to help Santiago with his fishing, Santiago replies, "You are already a man" (12). By demonstrating that Santiago has little more to teach the boy, this equality foreshadows the impending separation of the two friends, and also indicates that this will not be a story about a young boy learning from an old man, but a story of an old man learning the unique lessons of the autumn of life.
A similar type of unexpected equality comes out when Hemingway describes the various ways marlins and sharks are treated on shore. While this foreshadows the struggle between Santiago's marlin and the sharks, it is also equalizes the participants. Despite the battles at sea, the marlins and sharks are both butchered and used by humans on land; their antagonisms mean nothing on shore. Like the case of Santiago and Manolin, this equalization demonstrates the novella's thematic concern with the unity of nature‹including humanity‹a unity which ultimately helps succor the heroic victim of great tragedy.
This unity is also brought about in the strange Hemingway-ian conjunction of the beautiful and the barbaric. In other works, this is represented by bullfighting or big game hunting; here it is represented by fishing. Notice Manolin's excited recollection:
"I can remember the tail slapping and banging and the thwart breaking and the noise of the clubbing. I can remember you throwing me into the boat where the wet coiled lines were and feeling the whole boat shiver and the noise of your clubbing him like chopping a tree down and the sweet blood smell all over me" (12).
This ecstatic, almost erotic, imagery stands in stark contrast to the careful art of fishing we see later in the novel. The fact the fishing requires both calm detachment and violent engagement (a kind of masculine flourish) further illustrates the unity of a world which both oppresses man and out of which the strength to resist that oppression comes.
Hemingway also peppers the novella with numerous references to sight. We are told, for instance, that Santiago has uncannily good eyesight for a man of his age and experience. When Manolin notices this, Santiago replies simply, "I am a strange old man" (14). Given the previously mentioned analogy between Santiago's eyes and the sea, one suspects that his strangeness in this regard has something to do with his relationship to the sea. This connection, though, is somewhat problematic as it might suggest that Santiago would have success as a fisherman. Santiago's exact relation to the sea, though, will be taken up in later chapters.
The simplicity of Santiago's house further develops our view of Santiago as materially unsuccessful. It is interesting, though, that Hemingway draws attention to the relics of Santiago's wife in his house, presenting an aspect of Santiago which is otherwise absent throughout the novel. This is significant because it suggests a certain completeness to Santiago's character which makes him more of an Everyman‹appropriate for an allegory‹but mentioning it simply to remove it from the stage makes its absence even more noteworthy, and one might question whether the character of Santiago is too roughly drawn to allow the reader to fully identify with his story.
Santiago's and Manolin's repetitive fiction of offering food and retrieving nets heightens both the pathos one feels toward Santiago and the sense of timelessness about the old man‹a timelessness which would serve any allegorical aspirations Hemingway has. The conversation about baseball which ensues after this role-playing is also significant, especially the valorizing references to the "great DiMaggio." Joe DiMaggio is the heroic archetype for Santiago. Santiago's identification with DiMaggio‹"They say his father was a fisherman. Maybe he was poor as we are and would understand" (22)‹are especially relevant as DiMaggio, as Santiago, is at the time the story is set in the autumn of his career. (As Manolin says to Santiago, "Keep warm old man...remember we are in September" (18)). DiMaggio's struggle to play with a bone spur in his heel is a transparent reference to another heroic archetype, Achilles. These associations help elevate Santiago's actions to the level of the heroic.
Santiago's rejoinder to Manolin's command to keep warm in September, "The month when the great fish come....Anyone can he a fisherman in May," is also important in that it foreshadows the novella's concern with the lessons learned near the end of one's life. Santiago, the character in Hemingway's novella, will acquire a great wisdom as Santiago, the fisherman, will catch the big fish.
There is an interesting irony in the inversion of roles between the paternal tutor Santiago and the pupil Manolin. While Santiago took care of Manolin on the water by teaching him how to fish, Manolin takes care of Santiago on land by, for example, making sure the old man eats. When Santiago wants to fish without eating, Santiago assumes a parental tone and declares, "You'll not fish without eating while I'm alive." To which Santiago replies half-jokingly, "Then live a long time and take care of yourself" (19). This inversion sets up the ensuing narrative by making the old Santiago a youth again, ready to receive the wisdom of his quest. Santiago's almost childlike dream of playful lions‹symbols of male strength and virility‹before his voyage is also a gesture of Santiago's second youth.
Besides this, though, the dream of lions on the coast of Africa draws attention to Santiago's personal history as a Spaniard from the Canary Islands. Santiago is the Spanish name for James, the patron saint of Spain. Like Santiago, St. James was a fisherman before he heeded Christ's call to be a fisher of men, and it was he who first brought Christianity to Spain. This parallel further casts a religious air around Santiago and his ensuing struggle. And as St. James was the special patron saint of the Spanish conquistadors who fought to bring their values to the New World, there is a suggestion that Santiago is bringing his (Hemingways?) heroic values to the New World as well.
The nature of these values is not so clear, especially at this point in the book, but Hemingway does offer some clues. There is, as there always is with Hemingway, a premium placed on masculinity and the obligations of manhood. When Santiago wakes Manolin up to help him off, the tired boy says simply, "Que va....It is what a man must do" (26). As for what this manhood entails, perhaps the most illustrative thing Hemingway says so far is in his characterization of Santiago's humility. Hemingway says of Santiago, "He was too simple to wonder when he had attained humility. But he knew he had attained it and he knew it was not disgraceful and it carried no loss of true pride" (14). Humility and the acceptance of obligation, then, appear to be marks of manhood, a concept Hemingway will flesh out through the course of the novella.
Summary and Analysis of Pages 28-41
Part II: The Old Man and the Sea (28 - 41)
Santiago leaves shore early in the morning, before sunrise. "He knew he was going far out and he left the smell of the land behind and rowed out into the clean early morning smell of the ocean" (28). Soon, Santiago rows over the Œgreat well,' a sudden drop of seven hundred fathoms where shrimp, bait fish, and squid congregate. Moving along, Santiago spots flying fish and birds, expressing great sympathy for the latter. As he queries, "Why did they make birds so delicate and fine as those sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel? She is kind and very beautiful. But she can be so cruel...." (29).
We are told that while other fisherman, those who used buoys and motorboats, thought of the sea as a masculine competitor or enemy, Santaigo "always thought of her as feminine and as something that gave or withheld great favors, and if she did wild or wicked things it was because she could not help them" (30).
Santiago keeps pressing out, past the great well where he has been recently unsuccessful. He travels out where schools of bonito and albacore are, hoping there might be a big fish with them. Before light, Santiago casts his bait fish out but does not let them drift with the current. He wants to know exactly where his hooks are. Santiago says of this, "I keep them with precision. Only I have no luck anymore. But who knows? Maybe today. Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready" (32).
Santiago sees a man-of-war bird overhead and notices that the bird has spied something in the water. The old man follows rows near the bird, and drops his own lines into the area, hoping to capture the fish the bird has seen. There is a large school of dolphin traveling fast, too fast for either the bird or Santiago to capture. Santiago moves on, hoping to catch a stray or perhaps even discover a marlin tracking the school.
A Portuguese man-of-war approaches the boat and receives Santiago's ire. The old man recalls being stung by the man-of-war before and happily recalls watching their destruction. As he says, "The iridescent bubbles were beautiful. But they were the falsest things in the sea and the old man loved to see the big sea turtles eating them" (36). Having worked on a turtle boat for years, Santiago expresses his sympathy for turtles. He says "most people are heartless about turtles because a turtle's heart will beat for hours after he has been cut up and butchered....I have such a heart too and my hands and feet are like theirs" (37).
Santiago notices the bird again, and suspects that he has found fish again. Soon after, the old man sees a tuna leap from the water and the bird diving to catch the bait fish stirred up by the tuna's jump. Santiago gently moves toward the school and soon feels a bite. He pulls the albacore in the boat and clubs him to death.
The old man soon realizes that he is talking to himself. "It was considered a virtue not to talk unnecessarily at sea and the old man had always considered it so and respected it. But now he said his thoughts aloud many times since there was no one that they could annoy" (39). Santiago recalls himself from such thinking, saying "Now is the time to think of only one thing. That which I was born for" (40). Soon, there, is a strong bite on one of the lines Santiago cast out earlier.
Santiago's start into the sea is an excellent demonstration of Hemingway's descriptive art in its successive engagement of various senses. First, there is smell: "The old man knew he was going far out and he left the smell of the land behind and rowed out into the clean early morning smell of the ocean" (28). Next, there is sight: "He saw the phosphorescence of the Gulf weed in the water" (29). And lastly, there is hearing: "...[H]e heard the trembling sound as the flying fish left the water" (30). This use of different sensory imagery helps create a powerful description of the sea. As the novella's title might indicate, the sea is to play a very important role in the narrative, and Hemingway's exquisite introduction of the sea, recalling his descriptions of Santiago at the novella's opening in their sustained beauty, signals that importance.
This introductory description is followed by the first of many instances in this section of apparent contradictions resolved into a greater unity‹a theme mentioned in the part I analysis. Santiago muses about the fragility of the birds he sees. He says, "Why did they make birds so delicate and fine as those sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel? She is kind and very beautiful. But she can be so cruel..." (29). This dichotomy in the sea's temperament is further illustrated by Santiago's gendered explanation of the sea's many faces.
According to Santiago, people refer to the sea as a woman when they love her. When they view her as a enemy and rival, though, they refer to her as a man. Santiago "always thought of her as feminine and as something that gave or withheld great favors, and if she did wild or wicked things it was because she could not help them" (30). Despite the chauvinism characteristic of Hemingway, this view of the ocean is important in that it indicates that while the sea may bring fortune or ruin, the sea is unitary. It is not sometimes one thing and sometimes another. The good and the bad, or what people perceive as the good and the bad, are all equal parts of this greater unity.
In addition, this gendered view also suggests an alternative conception of unity, unity between the masculine and the feminine. As the descriptions of those who view the sea as a man are cast in a negative light, one might argue that the story is repudiation of a homosocial world of competitive masculinity. Man and man will always yield strife; man and woman, Santiago and the sea, complement each other and create a peaceable unity. The representation of the feminine, though, in so abstract a context problematizes this judgment, especially when the only flesh and blood woman we see in the story, the tourist at the very end, is supposed to upset us.
According to many commentators, the passage in which Santiago describes the care with which he casts his line is a transparent autobiographical reference: "...I keep them with precision. Only I have no more luck anymore. But who knows? Maybe today. Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready" (32). This novella was published after one of the worst disaster of Hemingway's literary career, Across the River and into the Trees. In a way, this passage is an excuse of that work. He had maintained the precision and exactitude of his previous works in the work. That this was not appreciated was a matter of luck or, one might assume, the caprice of literary tastes. In light of this interpretation, The Old Man and the Sea is frequently read as a symbolic fictionalization of Hemingway's own quest for his next great catch, his next great book.
Santiago's statement that his eyes adjust to the sun during different parts of the day furnishes another example of the importance of sight and visual imagery in the novella. Santiago says, "All my life the early sun has hurt my eyes, he thought. Yet they are still good. In the evening I can look straight into it without getting the blackness. It has more force in the evening too. But in the morning it is just painful" (33). Given the likening of natural time cycles to human age, e.g. September as the autumn of life, it is plausible to read this passage as a statement of the edifying power of age. While it is difficult to find one's way in the morning of youth, this task becomes easier when done by those who have lived through the day into the evening of life.
The Portuguese man-of-war can also be seen as a symbol of femininity, though one with decidedly negative implications. While the animal is called a man-of-war, the Spanish name which Santiago uses, agua mala, is feminine, and Santiago refers to it as a whore. He notes its beauty but describes the power of its sting and calls it the "falsest thing in the sea" (36), recalling recurring cultural associations between femininity and falsity. He even takes pleasure in the turtle's devouring the man-of-war and recollects fondly when stepped on their beached brethren. Perhaps this represents the negative aspect of femininity, a counterpoise to the positive imagery of the sea. In any case, it problematizes the novel's relation to gender and further calls into question the positivity of Hemingway's conception of the feminine.
Hemingway complicates the matter further by identifying Santiago with turtles, those creatures which blindly‹literally‹devour the feminine man-of-war. The main significance of this identification, however, is Santiago's likeness to the sea and the various creatures which inhabit its living waters. About the turtles, Santiago says "Most people are heartless about turtles because a turtle's heart will beat for hours after he has been cut up and butchered. But the old man thought, I have such a heart too and my feet and hands are like theirs" (37). This identification is important as it corroborates our understanding of Santiago's indomitability, the quality of undefeated-ness Hemingway noted early in the novella; with his body destroyed, his heart, his spirit, will fight on. This foreshadows the harrowing task Santiago is about to face with the marlin. Also, Hemingway tells us that Santiago eats turtle eggs for strength and drinks shark liver oil for health. In this way, he internalizes the characteristics of the sea and adopts them as his own.
The episode in which Santiago talks to himself on the ocean can be taken to corroborate the autobiographical interpretation of the novella. Santiago's speech is really Hemingway's thought; the old fisherman figuratively sails the author's unconscious, represented in Freudian symbolism by the sea, in an attempt to pull forth the great story from its inchoate depths. According to this view, everything takes place within Hemingway's mind, a self-referential allegory of the heroic artist‹"Now it is time to think of only one thing. That which I was born for" (40)‹searching for greatness in a world which seeks to deprive him of it.
That the fishermen call all the fish tuna and only differentiate between them when they sell them is at once a statement of the theme of unity and a repudiation of the market. It is not ignorance the underlies this practice, but rather a simplifying‹though not simplistic‹appreciation of the unity of the sea. There are fish and there are fisherman; those who are caught and those who catch. This distillation of parts heightens the allegorical quality of the novel. The market forces the fisherman to forget this symbolic binary relationship and focus on differentiation, requiring a multiplication of the terms of difference. As the novella stakes out a position of privileging unity, this market-driven divisionism come across negatively. This makes sense in light of Hemingway's previously mentioned anger at the unappreciative literary audience for his previous effort.

Summary and Analysis of Pages 41-63
Part III: (41 - 63)
Santiago notices a bite on his hundred fathom deep line. The first bite is hard, and the stick to which the line is connected drops sharply. The next tug was more tentative, but Santiago knew exactly what it was. "One hundred fathoms down a marlin was eating the sardines that covered the point and the shank of the hook where the hand-forged hook projected from the head of the small tuna" (41). Encouraged by a bite at so deep a depth so far out in the Gulf, Santiago reasons that the fish much be very large.
The marlin nibbles around the hook for some time, refusing to take the bait fully. Santiago speaks aloud, as if to cajole the fish into accepting the bait. He says, "Come on....Make another turn. Just smell them. Aren't they lovely? Eat them good now and then there is the tuna. Hard and cold and lovely. Don't be shy fish. Eat them" (42). After many false bites, the marlin finally takes the tuna and pulls out a great length of line.
Santiago waits a bit for the marlin to swallow the hook and then pulls hard on the line to bring the marlin up to the surface. The fish is strong, though, and does not come up. Instead, he swims away, dragging the old man and his skiff along behind. Santiago wishes he had Manolin with him to help. Alone, though, he must let the fish take the line it wants or risk losing it. Eventually, the fish will tire itself out and die. "But four hours later the fish was still swimming steadily out to sea, towing the skiff, and the old man was still braced solidly with the line across his back" (45).
As the sun went down, the marlin continued on in the same direction, and Santiago lost sight of land altogether. The result is a curious stalemate. As Santiago says, "I can do nothing with him and he can do nothing with me....Not as long as he keeps this up" (47). He wishes for the boy again and muses that "no one should be alone in their old age....But it is unavoidable" (48). As if in response to this expression of loneliness, two porpoises come to the surface. Seeing the frolicking couple, Santiago remarks, "They are good....They play and make jokes and love one another. They are our brothers like the flying fish" (48). Santiago then remembers a female marlin he and Manolin caught. The male marlin had stayed beside the boat in despair, leaping in the air to see his mate in the boat before he disappeared into the deep ocean. It was the saddest thing Santiago had ever seen.
Something then takes one of the baits behind Santiago, but he cuts the line order to avoid distraction from the marlin, wishing Manolin was there to watch the other lines. Expressing his resolve, Santiago says, "Fish,...I'll stay with you until I am dead" (52). He expresses ambivalence over whether he wants the fish to jump, wanting to end the struggle as quickly as possible but worrying that the hook might slip out of the fish's mouth. Echoing his former resolve though with less certainty, Santiago says, "Fish,...I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends" (54).
A small bird land on the boat, and while Santiago is speaking to the bird, the marlin lurches forward and pulls the old man down, cutting his hand. Lowering his hand to water to clean it, Santiago notices that the marlin has slowed down. He decides to eat a tuna he has caught in order to give him strength for his ordeal. As he is cutting the fish, though, his left hand cramps. "What kind of hand is that," Santiago says, "Cramp then if you want. Make yourself into a claw. It will do you no good" (58). The old man eats the tuna, hoping it will renew his strength and help release his hand.
Santiago considers his lonely condition. He is surrounded by a seemingly endless expanse of deep, dark water. Staring at the clouds, though, he sees a "flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea" (61). Santiago soon focuses on his hand, though, and contemplates the humiliation of a cramp, an insurrection of one's own body against oneself.
Just then, the marlin comes out of the water quickly and descends into the water again. Santiago is amazed by its size, two feet longer than the skiff. He realizes that the marlin could destroy the boat if he wanted to and says, "...[T]hank God, they are not as intelligent as we who kill them; although they are more noble and more able" (63). Santiago says prayers to assuage his worried heart and settles into the chase once again.
This section begins Santiago's pursuit of the hooked marlin, and there is a good deal of simple description of the mechanics of catching such a fish. This helps create a sense of narrative authenticity, the clean conveyance of reality for which Hemingway assiduously strove. Despite this focus on specific reality, this section of the novel can be seen to continue in the symbolic vein of the previous sections.
For instance, Hemingway's description of the marlin's initial nibbling on the bait utilizes the same phrases again and again, e.g. "delicate pulling." While this may express the actual event perfectly, the repetition creates a distancing effect, pushing the prose more toward poetry and less towards realistic objectivity. As noted before, this heightens the allegorical quality of the narrative, which, at least explicitly, Hemingway denied.
The unanimous response with which Santiago's thoughts of loneliness are met is another expression of the theme of unity in the novella. Santiago thinks to himself, "No one should be alone in their old age....But it is unavoidable" (48). As if in response to this, Hemingway introduces a pair of friendly dolphins in the very next paragraph. "They are good," says Santiago. "They make jokes and love on another. They are our brothers like the flying fish" (48).
Then, as if on cue, Santiago begins to feel sorry for the marlin he has hooked. This pity for the great fish is intensified when Santiago recalls seeing the misery of a male marlin after he had caught its mate. Saddened deeply by this demonstration of devotion, Santiago and Manolin, with whom he was fishing, "begged her pardon and butchered her promptly" (50). Suddenly, Santiago is speaking of his actions as Œtreachery,' a very odd word for a fisherman to use in describing his trade. The more he identifies with the sea and its creatures, the more despicable his actions become. Soon, though, Santiago's treachery is transformed from his act of killing to his having gone out further than most fisherman go. As Santiago says:
The end of this passage begins another shift in tone, this time to the tragically heroic. The image of a struggle between two figures alone in the great Œbeyond' certainly conjures an air of monumental conflict. This heroic angle is played up even more when Santiago ends these reflection by thinking, "Perhaps I should not have been a fisherman....But that was the thing I was born for" (50). Again, this emphasis on fate is typical of heroic stories, especially tragedies.
Interestingly, one might also read this statement of fate as an expression of Santiago's own place in a symbolic story about the writing process itself. Santiago, a product of Hemingway's authorial imagination, was born to play the role he has in the narrative. In this way, the character's succumbing to fate is a comment on the creative process by which the author controls the destiny of his or her characters.
Santiago's identification with and affection for the marlin increases the longer he is with the fish. In order to Œconvince' the fish to be caught and to steel himself for his difficult task, Santiago says, "Fish,...I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you before this day ends" (54). Soon after, Santiago tells the bird that has landed on his boat that he cannot help because he is "with a friend" (55). And later, Santiago goes as far as to wish that he could feed the marlin, calling it his brother.
The cramping of Hemingway's left hand is interesting First, it creates tension by debilitating the protagonist even more, making failure more likely and so his triumph sweeter. Second, if we accept the autobiographical reading of the novella, it can be a symbol for writers block. This is importantly different from Hemingway's previous attempts to blame the readers for his recent lack of success. Now, suddenly, the fault is his own. But not fully. The hand reacts in spite of its possessor's intention, and Santiago speaks to his hand as if it operated independently of himself. This certainly makes the question of who is responsible for Hemingway's failures more complicated.
In addition, Santiago's response to the cramp also affords us an opportunity to investigate Hemingway's conception of manhood. As Hemingway writes, " It is humiliating before others to have a diarrhea from ptomaine poisoning or to vomit from it. But a cramp, he thought of it as a calambre, humiliates oneself especially when one is alone" (62). A man's sense of humiliation does not depend exclusively on the presence (or imagined presence) of others who would look upon him with disgust or disdain. It rests on an internal standard of dignity, one which privileges above all control over one's self. It is not only inconvenient or frustrating that Santiago's hand cramped, it is, as Santiago says, "unworthy of it to be cramped" (64). This concern with worthiness is a important to the novel.
Santiago's concerns about his own worthiness come to a head when he finally beholds the fish he is tracking. When Santiago finally catches a glimpse of the great marlin, he imagines he is in some sort of aristocratic feud, with each participant needing to demonstrate his prowess to the other before the fight. Not, though, to intimidate the opponent, but rather to demonstrate his own status, to show the other that he is a worthy antagonist. "I wonder why he jumped, the old man thought. He jumped almost as though to show me how big he was. I know now, anyway, he thought. I wish I could show him what sort of man I am. But then he would see the cramped hand" (64). This necessity to be seen as worthy in the eyes of a perceived equal or superior complicates the internal standard of manhood which Hemingway seems to elucidate elsewhere.
From the time Santiago sees the fish to the end of the book, he seems obsessed with the idea of proving himself a worthy slayer of such a noble beast. This obsession, more often than not, is couched in self-ascriptions of inferiority. Santiago thanks God that marlins "are not as intelligent as we who kill them; although they are more noble and able" (63). And he thinks to himself, "I wish I was the fish....with everything he has against only my will and my intelligence" (64). The dissociation between intelligence on the one hand and nobility and ability on the other is very interesting, as it amounts to an exaltation of the natural and animalistic over the human, if we accept intelligence as the mark of humanity. This heightens the stakes of the struggle between the marlin and Santiago, and almost necessitates the long battle that ensues, for Santiago's eventually victory can only be seen as deserved if he has proved his worthiness and nobility through suffering. In the end, though, we might still ask, according to the novella's own terms, whether Santiago's victory over the fish amounted to a triumph for humanity or a miscarriage of justice, in which an ignoble human brute defeats the sea's paragon of nobility.

Summary and Analysis of Pages 63-95
Part IV: (63 - 95)
Not knowing how much longer it will take to subdue the marlin, Santiago throws another line out to catch a fish for food. His cramped hand begins to relax, and in his exhaustion, Santiago thinks about Joe DiMaggio and his bone spur. Comparing a bone spur to the spurs of fighting cocks, Santiago concludes that "Man is not much beside the great birds and beast" (68).
As the sun sets, Santiago thinks back to triumphs of his past in order to give himself more confidence in the present. He remembers a great arm-wrestling match he had at a tavern in Casablanca. It had lasted a full day and a night, but Santiago, El Campeon (The Champion) as he was known then, eventually won. "He decided that he could beat anyone if he wanted to badly enough and he decided that it was bad for his right hand for fishing" (70). He tried to wrestle with his left hand but it was a traitor then as it had been now.
Santiago then catches a dolphin (the fish and not the mammal) for food and throws the line out again in case he needs more sustenance later. As the sun sets again, Santiago ties together two oars across the stern to create more drag. Looking up into the night sky, Santiago calls the stars his friend and says, "The fish is my friend too....I have never seen or heard of such a fish. But I must kill him. I am glad we do not have to try to kill the stars" (75). After considering this, Santiago begins to feel sorry for the fish again and concludes that the people who will buy his meat at the market will not be worthy to eat of such a noble beast.
Recalling his exhaustion, Santiago decides that he must sleep some if he is to kill the marlin. He cuts up the dolphin he has caught to prevent spoiling, and eats some of it before contriving a way to sleep. Santiago wraps the line around him and leans against the bow to anchor himself, leaving his left hand on the rope to wake him if the marlin lurches. Soon, the old man is asleep, dreaming of a school of porpoises, his village house, and finally of the lions of his youth on the African beach.
Santiago is awoken by the line rushing furiously through his right hand. The marlin leaps out of the water and it is all the old man can do to hold onto the line, now cutting his hand badly and dragging him down to the bottom of the skiff. Santiago finds his balance, though, and realizes that the marlin has filled the air sacks on his back and cannot go deep to die. The marlin will circle and then the endgame will begin.
At sunrise, the marlin begins a large circle. Santiago holds the line strongly, pulling it in slowly as the marlin goes round. As Santiago says, "the strain will shorten his circle each time. Perhaps in an hour I will see him. Now I must convince him and then I must kill him" (87). Santiago continues pulling him in until the marlin catches the wire lead of the line with his spear and regains some of the line. Eventually, the marlin clears the lead and Santiago pulls back the line he lost.
At the third turn, Santiago sees the fish and is amazed by its size. He readies the harpoon and pulls the line in more. The marlin tries desperately to pull away. Santiago, no longer able to speak for lack of water, thinks, "You are killing me, fish....But you have a right to. Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills you" (92). This marlin continues to circle, coming closer and pulling out. At last it is next to the skiff, and Santiago drives his harpoon into the marlin's chest.
"Then the fish came alive, with his death in him, and rose high out of the water showing all his great length and width and all his power and his beauty" (94). It crashed into the sea, blinding Santiago with a shower of sea spray. With the glimpse of vision he had, Santiago saw the slain beast laying on its back, crimson blood disseminating into the azure water. Seeing his prize, Santiago says, "I am a tired old man. But I have killed this fish which is my brother and now I must do the slave work" (95).
In this section, Santiago continues his obsession with proving his worthiness to the hooked fish. He says, "I'll kill him....in all his greatness and glory. Although it is unjust. But I will show him what a man can do and what a man endures" (66). Again, the fish is construed as a noble superior, the death of which would be unjust. The last sentence foreshadows the intense struggle to ensue. Also, because of the particularities of traditional English usage, the last sentence of the quote can be read two ways. A man can refer to a human being or a male. As Hemingway is usually understood to conflate the noblest qualities of human beings with the noblest qualities of the male sex, I think it is best to read the statement both ways at once. Making Santiago a representative for all humankind serves primarily to heighten the allegorical nature of the novel.
In the next paragraph, Santiago makes some very interesting comments about the nature of worthiness, emphasizing its curiously fragile nature. Having told Manolin on several occasions that he was a strange old man‹strangeness here is synonym for nobility, something which normal people apparently lack‹he must now prove it; "the thousand times he had proved it mean nothing. Now he was proving it again. Each time was a new time and he never thought about the past when he was doing it" (66). This is a difficult passage to interpret as it could be read as an expression of Santiago's particular psychology, as a matter of fact, he never thought about the past and always needed to prove himself as each new situation arose, or as a broader statement about nobility, one which holds that nobility is not a really a quality of character but of actions. Given the novella's aforementioned emphasis on allegorical generality, it seems safe to accept the latter reading. As with the necessity of having one's worthiness recognized (conferred?) by others, this alienation of nobility from the person to his deeds complicates Hemingway's internal standard of manhood.
In the course of these considerations, Santiago recalls the figure of Joe DiMaggio, identified at the beginning of the novella as a heroic paragon. "I must have confidence," thought Santiago, "and I must be worthy of the great DiMaggio who does all things perfectly even with the pain of the bone spur in his heel" (68). It is strange, though, that immediately after valorizing DiMaggio, Santiago immediately diminishes the baseball player's greatness by thinking that the pain of a bone spur could not be as bad as the pain of the spur of a fighting cock. He even concludes that "man is not much beside the great birds and beasts. Still I would rather be that beast down there in the darkness of the sea" (68). Again, Nature, and the marlin especially, is privileged above even the greatest exemplars of human greatness.
In order to counteract these feelings of inferiority, Santiago recalls an almost mythic arm wrestling match he had in his youth. (I should note that these constant reiterations of man's inferiority do become tedious for the reader. Some have accused Hemingway of forsaking his famous Œart of omission' in this novella, beating the proverbial dead horse). Given that this match lasted a full day and night with blood flowing from beneath each participants' fingernails, it seems reasonable to read it as hyperbole, underscoring the fable-like quality of the novella.
The theme of sight and the use of visual imagery appears many times in this section In wondering how the world looks in the darkness of the deep of ocean, Santiago remarks, "Once I could see quite well in the dark. Not in the absolute dark. But almost as a cat sees" (67). Also, when Santiago sees a plane flying overhead, he considers what the fish look like from such a height, in particular, how their rich colors, purple, green, and golden, change. This emphasis on sight and the visual field seems both to be an attempt by Hemingway to convey realistic experience‹we do belong to a visually-oriented culture‹and to follow the age-old association between the sense of sight and the perception of a deeper reality. Santiago's uncanny vision tells the reader to give credence to the wisdom he uncovers through his adventure.
At one point in the novel, Santiago's concern about worthiness takes on an added dimension. Instead of concerning himself solely with his own worthiness to kill the marlin, he now concerns himself with whether the people who will buy and eat the meat of the marlin will be worthy to do so. "How many people will he feed, he thought. But are they worthy to eat him? No, of course not. There is no one worthy of eating him from the manner of his behavior and his great dignity" (75). This extension of unworthiness from the killer to consumer underscores how truly inferior Santiago thinks people are with respect to great beasts such as the marlin. If he truly believes this, though, why would he continue. He may prove his own worth by enduring his struggle, but there is no way for the people in the fish markets to prove themselves. Indeed, the exalting the nobility of his prey too much seems to exclude commercial fishing for marlins altogether.
The theme of unity comes out in this section as well. Whereas this theme had previously taken the form of Santiago's identification with the sea and its creatures, Santiago expands the scope of his identification by including the celestial bodies as brothers. He claims fraternity with the stars on several occasions and justifies his need to sleep by considering the behavior or the moon and sun and ocean. He says, "I am as clear as the stars that are my brothers. Still I must sleep. They sleep and the moon and the sun sleep and even the ocean sleeps sometimes on certain days when there is no current and a flat calm" (77). This broader identification underscores the unity of human life with all of nature.
When he finally does fall asleep, Santiago has a very interesting dream. He dreamt of "a vast school of porpoises that stretched for eight or ten miles and it was in the time of their mating and they would leap high into the air and return into the same hole they had made in the water when they leaped" (81). The imagery here is obviously sexual, emphasizing the feminine character of the sea which Santiago spoke about in the first section. It is mating season and the porpoises, phallic symbols par excellence, go in and out of the same hole, yonic symbol par excellence, in the ocean, already known to us as feminine.
Santiago's final confrontation with the fish after he wakes further develops Santiago's equality with the fish and the operative conception of manhood which Santiago works to uphold. Pulling in the circling fish exhausts Santiago, and the exasperated old fisherman exclaims, "You are killing me, fish....But you have a right to. Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who" (92). As before, the marlin is Santiago's exemplar of nobility. It is very interesting that Santiago does not seem to care who kills whom. This, like so much of Santiago's relation to the fish, seems to recall an aristocratic code of honor in which dying by the hand of a noble opponent is as noble an end as defeating him. Indeed, it might even be a preferable end because one does not know under what conditions one will die.
Santiago's obsession with valorizing his opponent seems to a far cry from our common idea that one must devalue or dehumanize that which we kill. To view a victim as an equal is supposed to render killing it a sin, and make oneself susceptible to death: the golden rule, if you don't want to die (and who does?), don't kill others. Santiago defies this reasoning, thought he accepts the consequences of its logic of equality. Instead of trying to degrade his object, he elevates it, accepting with it the equalizing proposition that his death is as worthy an outcome of the struggle as the his opponent's death. He is only worthy to kill the opponent if he is worthy to he killed by him: two sides of the same coin.
That this relates to Santiago's (and we might suppose Hemingway's) conception of manhood is likely obvious. The connection between the fish's behavior and masculine behavior is brought out most powerfully when Santiago tells himself, "Keep your head clear and know how to suffer like a man. Or a fish...." (92). Comporting oneself with grace (or calmness as Santiago's quote in the previous paragraph indicates) in the face of pain is central to the novella's idea of manhood. Santiago himself says "pain does not matter to a man," and it is only by ignoring his pain that he can sustain the effort to capture the fish. Withstanding pain, then, handling it as a man, is the essence of proving himself worthy to catch the marlin.
Summary and Analysis of Pages 95-end
Part V: (95 - end)
Having killed the Marlin, Santiago lashes its body alongside his skiff. He pulls a line through the marlin's gills and out its mouth, keeping its head near the bow. "I want to see him, he thought, and to touch and to feel him. He is my fortune, he thought" (95). Having secured the marlin to the skiff, Santiago draws the sail and lets the trade wind push him toward the southwest.
An hour after Santiago killed the marlin, a mako shark appears. It had followed the trail of blood the slain marlin left in its wake. As the shark approaches the boat, Santiago prepares his harpoon, hoping to kill the shark before it tears apart the marlin. "The shark's head was out of water and his back was coming out and the old man could hear the noise of skin and flesh ripping on the big fish when he rammed the harpoon down onto the shark's head" (102). The dead shark slowly sinks into the deep ocean water.
The shark took forty pounds of flesh from the marlin and mutilated its perfect side. Santiago no longer liked to look at the fish; "when the fish had been hit it was as though he himself were hit" (103). He began to regret having caught the marlin at all, wishing that his adventure had been but a dream. Despite the challenges before him, though, Santiago concludes that "man is not made for defeat....A man can be destroyed but not defeated" (103).
Soon Santiago considers whether his killing the fish was a sin. He first says that he killed the marlin to feed himself and others, and if this is a sin, then everything is a sin. But he had not only killed the marlin for food, "you, [Santiago], killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more?" (105). Santiago soon ceases this line of thought to concentrate on getting back to shore.
Two hours later, two shovel-nosed sharks arrive at the skiff. After losing his harpoon to the mako, Santiago fastens his knife to the end of the oar and now wields this against the sharks. He kills the first shark easily, but while he does this, the other shark is ripping at the marlin underneath the boat. He lets go of the sheet to swing broadside and reveal the shark underneath. After some struggle, he kills this shark as well.
Santiago apologizes to the fish for the mutilation he has suffered. He admits, "I shouldn't have gone out so far, fish....Neither for you nor for me. I am sorry, fish" (110). Tired and losing hope, Santiago sits and waits for the next attacker, a single shovel-nosed shark. The old man succeeds in killing the fish but breaks his knife blade in the process.
More sharks appear at sunset and Santiago only has a club with which to beat them away. He does not kill the sharks, but damages them enough to prevent their return. Santiago then looks forward to nightfall as he will be able to see the lights of Havana, guiding him back to land. He regrets not having cleaved off the marlin's sword to use as a weapon when he had the knife and apologizes again to the fish. At around ten o'clock, he sees the light of Havana and steers toward it.
In the night, the sharks return. "[B]y midnight he fought and this time he knew the fight was useless. They came in a pack and he could only see the lines in the water their fins made and their phosphorescence as they threw themselves on the fish" (118). He clubs desperately at the fish, but the club was soon taken away by a shark. Santiago grabs the tiller and attacks the sharks until the tiller breaks. "That was the last shark of the pack that came. There was nothing more for them to eat" (119).
Santiago "sailed lightly now and he had no thoughts nor any feelings of any kind" (119). He concentrates purely on steering homewards and ignored the sharks that came to gnaw on the marlin's bones. When he arrives at the harbor, everyone was asleep. Santiago steps out of the boat, carrying the mast back to his shack. "He started to climb again and at the top he fell and lay for some time with the mast across his shoulder. He tried to get up. But it was too difficult and he sat there with the mast on his shoulder and looked at the road" (121). When he finally arose, he had to sit five times before reaching home. Arriving at his shack, Santiago collapsed on his bed and fell asleep.
Manolin arrives at the shack while Santiago is still asleep. The boy leaves quickly to get some coffee for Santiago, crying on his way to the Terrace. Manolin sees fisherman gathered around the skiff, measuring the marlin at eighteen feet long. When Manolin returns to the shack, Santiago is awake. The two speak for a while, and Manolin says, "Now we will fish together again," To which Santiago replies, "No. I am not lucky. I am not lucky anymore" (125). Manolin objects, "The hell with luck....I'll bring the luck with me" (125). Santiago acquiesces and Manolin leaves to fetch food and a shirt.
That afternoon there are tourists on the Terrace. A female tourist sees the skeleton of the marlin moving in the tide. Not recognizing the skeleton, she asks the waiter what it is. He responds in broken English "eshark," thinking she wants to know what happened. She comments to her partner that she didn't know sharks had such beautiful tails. Meanwhile, back in Santiago's shack, the old man "was still sleeping on his face and the boy was sitting by him watching him. The old man was dreaming about lions" (127).
This last section of the novella constitutes the tortuous denouement of the plot. Caught out far at sea with a dead, bleeding marlin lashed to the side of his boat, Santiago is asking for trouble and trouble he receives. Everything he has worked so hard for slowly but surely disintegrates, until he arrives back on land in worse condition than he left. Triumph over crushing adversity is the heart of heroism, and in order for Santiago the fisherman to be a heroic emblem for humankind, his tribulations must be monumental. Triumph, though, is not final, as Santiago's successful slaying of the marlin shows, else there would be no reason to include the final 30 pages of the book. Hemingway vision of heroism is Sisyphean, requiring continuous labor for quintessentially ephemeral ends. What the hero does is to face adversity with dignity and grace, hence Hemingway's Neo-Stoic emphasis on self-control and the other facets of his idea of manhood. What we achieve or fail at externally is not as significant to heroism as the comporting ourselves with inner nobility. As Santiago says, "[M]an is not made for defeat....A man can be destroyed but not defeated" (103).
Hemingway accentuates Santiago's personal destruction by reiterating his connection with the marlin he has caught. Soon after he has secured the marlin to the boat and hoisted his sail, he becomes somewhat delirious, questioning if it is he who is bringing in the marlin or vice versa. His language is very telling. "...[I]f the fish were in the skiff, with all dignity gone, there would be no question....But they were sailing together lashed side by side" (99). Even in death, then, the fish has not lost his dignity. He is Œside by side' with Santiago, a partner in return. This identification is highlighted after the first shark attack when Hemingway tells us that Santiago "did not like to look at the fish anymore since he had been mutilated. When the fish had been hit it was as though he himself were hit" (103). The more the marlin is devoured, the less strength Santiago has until, when the marlin is simply a bare skeleton, Santiago "had no thoughts or feelings of any kind" (119).
The sharks are interesting creatures. They are widely read as embodiments of literary critics, tearing apart the Santiago's (Hemingway's) catch (book). While this may have some credence, I think the sharks are better read as representations of the negative, destructive aspect of the sea and, more generally, human existence. As we have seen, the theme of unity is very important in the novel, but this unity does not only encompass friendly or innocuous aspects of the whole. While he battles against them, the sharks are no less creatures of the sea, brothers if you will, than the friendly porpoises Santiago encounters earlier in his expedition.
This is brought out most strongly in the descriptions of the mako, the first shark Santiago encounters. "He was a very big Mako shark built to swim as fast as the fastest fish in the sea and everything about him was beautiful except his jaws. His back was as blue as the sword fish's and his belly was silver and his hide was smooth and handsome" (100). Indeed, "he was built as a sword fish except for his huge jaws" (100). The mako is not a nasty or brutish beast, but noble in its own way, a predatory marlin. Reflecting on his victory over the mako, Santiago says the shark is "cruel and able and strong and intelligent. But I was more intelligent than he was. Perhaps not....Perhaps I was only better armed" (103). The other shovel-nosed sharks are not positively described‹"they were hateful sharks, bad smelling, scavengers as well as killers‹but they are certainly part of the ocean environment.
On a psychoanalytic reading of the novella, the sharks might be seen as representations of a guilty conscience. The son has killed the father, the marlin, to possess the mother, the ocean, and now suffers for his transgression, an inversion of Orestes whom the Furies pursued for killing his mother.
Santiago's discussion of sin is very significant in a novella about man's resistance against fate. He wonders if it was a sin for him to kill the marlin. "I suppose it was even though I did it to keep alive and feed many people. But then everything is a sin" (105). Santiago attempts to assuage this doubt by recalling that he was "born to be a fisherman as the fish was born to be a fish" (106) Ignoring the invalid inference made in the first quote‹if killing X for reason Y is a sin, it does not hold that all actions performed for reason Y are sins‹this is an important point. According to this reasoning, Santiago is fated to sin and, presumably, to suffer for it. This seems to express Hemingway's belief that human existence is characterized by constant suffering, not because of some avoidable transgression, but because that's just the way it is.
Thinking more, Santiago reasons that he did not only kill the marlin for food. Speaking to himself, he says, "You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more?" (105). Adding to his guilt about killing the marlin, Santiago then recalls his enjoyment of killing the mako. As noted earlier, the mako is not a unconditionally wicked creature. As Santiago says to himself, "He lives on the live fish as you do. He is not a scavenger nor just a moving appetite as some sharks are. He is beautiful and noble and knows no fear of anything." Why then could he enjoy this killing and not the marlin's? Santiago offers two short responses, though neither one really answers the question: "I killed him in self-defense....And I killed him well" (107). The second response seems to more significant, but this would mean that killing the marlin was not a sin since he killed it well too. This suggests Santiago's sin, if it exists, must be interpreted differently.
Throughout this final section, Santiago repeatedly apologizes to the marlin in a way that provides another way to read Santiago's sin. He says, "Half fish....Fish that you were. I am sorry that I went out so far. I ruined us both" (115). According to this and similar passages ("And what beat you, he thought. Nothing, I went out too far (120)), Santiago's transgression is no longer his killing the fish, but going out too far in the ocean, "beyond all people in the world" (50). While the former sin helped account for the inescapable misery of the human condition, the latter focuses instead on escapable misery brought about by intentional action. Santiago chose to go out so far; he did not need to do so, but in doing so he must surrender his prize, the marlin, to the jealous sea.
This understanding of Santiago's sin is strange because it seems to separate man from nature in a way which contradicts the rest of the novella. Going out too far is an affront against nature similar to the hubristic folly of Greek tragedy; he has courted disaster through his own pride. Nowhere previously in the novel was this apparent, though. The sea seemed to welcome him, providing him company and food for his expedition. There was no resistance from nature to his activities, except perhaps the sharks, but these were never made to be nature's avengers. This reading of Santiago's sin thus seems very problematic.
After Santiago sees the two sand sharks approaching, he says "Ay," a word which Hemingway describes as "just a noise such as a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hands and into the woods" (107). This the first, explicit identification of Santiago with Christ. The second identification is near the end of the novella when Santiago carries the mast to his shack on his shoulder, falling several times‹recalling the stations of the cross‹only to collapse on his bed to sleep "face down on the newspapers with his arms out straight and the palms of his hands up"‹recalling the crucifixion (122). Making this analogy would certainly elevate Santiago's trials. But the allusions are so blatant and so out of place that they are only successful in drawing attention to Hemingway's narrative conceit, especially if we accept an autobiographical reading of the book. Besides, Santiago's story does not mirror Christ's except insofar as both men suffer greatly; the purpose of this suffering and each man's opponent differ radically.
Santiago's discussion of luck after the second shovel-nosed shark attack is interesting dramatically, as it once foreshadows Santiago's misfortune and offers the slightest illusion of hope for the reader as the novella approaches its end. He wonders to himself, "Maybe I'll have the luck to bring the forward half in. I should have some luck. No....You violated your luck when you went too far outside" (116). This clearly foreshadows the loss of the entire marlin. Later, though, Santiago remarks that "Luck is a thing that comes in many forms and who can recognize her?" (117). This statement certainly suggests that luck may be with Santiago even if it is not apparent to him or to the reader. Of course, there is no luck for Santiago, but suggesting there might be makes Santiago's eventual misfortune more powerful.
That Santiago completes the novel undefeated and still in possession of his dignity, is demonstrated by his conversation with Manolin. His first words to the boy are "They beat me. They truly beat me," referring to the sharks (124). Immediately, though, he moves to mundane matters such as what to do with the head of the marlin and what Manolin has caught in his absence. When Santiago refuses to fish with Manolin because of his own lack of luck, the boy says he will bring the luck. Soon, Santiago is talking about how to make a new killing lance in preparation of their next voyage. Finally, in the last sentence of the novel, we are told that "the old man was dreaming of lions," the same symbols of strength and youth which he enjoyed before his voyage (127). True to Hemingway's formula for heroism, Santiago, for all this trials and tribulations, remains the same unsuccessful but undefeated soul as before.
The female tourist at the end of the book represents the feminine incapacity to appreciate Santiago's masculine quest. For her, the marlin skeleton, a phallic symbol, is just "garbage waiting to go out to out with the tide" (127). She does not speak the waiter and Santiago's language, and so is ignorant of the old man's great deeds. Her misunderstanding is simple enough, but the fact that she is the only actual feminine character in the novel and that this episode appears on the last page gives it added significance.

Friday, May 21, 2010

heart of darkness summery & analysis

Summary and Analysis of Part One
A ship called the Nellie is cruising down the Thames--it will rest there as it awaits a change in tide. The narrator is an unidentified guest aboard the ship. He describes at length the appearance of the Thames as an interminable waterway, and then he describes the inhabitants of the ship. The Director of Companies doubles as Captain and host. They all regard him with affection, trust, and respect. The Lawyer is advanced in years and possesses many virtues. The Accountant is toying with dominoes, trying to begin a game. They already share the "bond of the sea." They are tolerant of one another.
Then there is Marlow. He has an emaciated appearance--sunken cheeks and a yellow complexion. The ship drops anchor, but nobody wants to begin the dominoes game. They sit meditatively at the sun, and the narrator takes great notice of how the water changes as the sun sets. Marlow suddenly speaks, noting that "this also has been one of the dark places of the earth." He is a man who does not represent his class: he is a seaman but also a wanderer, which is disdainful and odd, since most seamen live sedentary lives aboard the ship that is their home. No one responds to the remark, and Marlow continues to talk of olden times when the Romans arrived and brought light, which even now is constantly flickering. He says those people were not colonists but conquerors, taking everything by brute force. This "taking of the earth is not a pretty thing" when examined too closely; it is the idea behind it which people find redeeming. Then, to the dismay of his bored listeners, he switches into narration of a life experience: how he decided to be a fresh water sailor after coming into contact with colonization.
As a child, Marlow had a passion for maps, and he would lose himself in the blank spaces, which gradually turned into dark ones as they became peopled. He was especially taken with the picture of a long, coiling river. In his tale, after a number of voyages in the Orient and India, Marlow hopes to get charge of the steamboats that must go up and down that river for trade. Marlow looks for a ship, but he has hard luck finding a position. His aunt has connections in the Administration and writes to have him appointed a steamboat skipper. The appointment comes through very quickly, and Marlow is to take the place of Fresleven, a captain who was killed in a scuffle with the natives. He crosses the Channel to sign the contract with his employers.
Their office appears to him like a white sepulcher; the reception area is dimly lit. Two women sullenly man the area. Marlow notes an unfinished map, and he sees that he is going into the yellow section, the central area that holds the river. He signs but feels very uneasy as the women look at him meaningfully. Then there is a visit to the doctor. Marlow questions why he is not with the Company on its business. The doctor becomes cool and says he is no fool. Changes take place out there. He asks his patient whether there is madness in the family. With a clean bill of health and a long goodbye chat with his aunt, Marlow sets out on a French steamer, feeling like an "impostor."
Watching the coast as it slips by, the new skipper marvels at its enigmatic quality--it tempts and invites the seer to come ashore, but in a grim way. The weather is fierce, for the sun beats down strongly. The ship picks up others along the way, mainly soldiers and clerks. The trade names they pass on ships and on land seem almost farcical. There is a uniformly somber atmosphere. After a month, Marlow arrives at the mouth of the big river and takes his passage on a little steamer. Once aboard he learns that a man picked up the other day hanged himself recently.
He is taken to his Company's station. He walks through pieces of "decaying machinery" and observes a stream of black people walking slowly, very thin and indifferent. One of the "reclaimed" carries a rifle at "its middle." Marlow walks around to avoid this chain gang and finds a shade to rest. He sees more black people working, some who look like they are dying. One young man looks particularly hungry, and Marlow offers him the ship biscuit in his pocket. He notices that the boy is wearing white worsted around his neck, and he wonders what this is for. Marlow hastily makes his way towards the station. He meets a white man dressed elegantly and in perfect fashion. He is "amazing" and a "miracle." After learning that he is the Chief Accountant of the Company, Marlow respects him. The station is a muddle of activity.
The new skipper waits there for ten days, living in a hut. Frequently he visits the accountant, who tells him that he will meet Mr. Kurtz, a remarkable man in charge of the trading post in the ivory country. The Accountant is irritated that a bed station for a dying man has been set up in his office. He remarks that he begins to "hate the savages to death." He asks Marlow to tell Kurtz that everything is satisfactory.
The next day Marlow begins a 200 mile tramp into the interior. He crosses many paths, many deserted dwellings, and mysterious black men. His white companion becomes ill on the journey, which makes Marlow impatient but attentive. Finally they arrive at the Central Station, and Marlow must see the General Manager. The meeting is strange. The Manager has a stealthy smile. He is obeyed, but he does not inspire love or fear. He only inspires uneasiness. The trading had begun without Marlow, who was late. There were rumors that an important station was in jeopardy and that its chief, Kurtz, was ill. A shipwreck on Marlow's boat has set them back.
The manager is anxious and says it will be three months before they can make a full start in the trading. Marlow begins work in the station. Whispers of "ivory" punctuate the air throughout the days. One evening a shed almost burns down. A black man is beaten for this, and Marlow overhears: "Kurtz take advantage of this incident." The manager's main spy, a first-class agent, befriends the new skipper and begins to question him extensively about Europe and the people he knows there. Marlow is confused about what this man hopes to learn. The agent becomes "furiously annoyed."
There is a dark sketch on his wall of a woman blindfolded and carrying a lighted torch. The agent says that Kurtz painted it. Upon Marlow's inquiry about who this man is, he says that he is a prodigy, an "emissary of pity and science." They want Europe to entrust the guidance of the cause to them. The agent talks precipitately, wanting Marlow to give Kurtz a favorable report about his disposition because he believes Marlow has more influence in Europe than he actually does.
The narrator breaks off for an instant and returns to his listeners on the ship, saying that they should be able to see more in retrospect than he could in the moment. Back in the story, he is bored by the droning of the agent. Marlow wants rivets to stop the hole and get on with the work on his ship. He clambers aboard. The ship is the one thing that truly excites him. He notes the foreman of the mechanics sitting onboard. They cavort and talk happily of rivets that should arrive in three weeks. Instead of rivets, however, they receive an "invasion" of "sulky" black men with their white expedition leader, who is the Manager's uncle. Marlow meditates for a bit on Kurtz, wondering if he will be promoted to General Manger and how he will set about his work when there.
A logical way to begin analyzing the tale is by applying the title to the novel. "Darkness" is a problematic word with several meanings. It is initially mentioned in the context of maps, where places of darkness have been colored in once they have been explored and settled by colonists. The map is an important symbol. It is a guide, a record of exploration. The incomplete map has a dual purpose in that maps unlock mysteries, on the one hand, by laying out the geography of unknown lands for new visitors, and on the other hand, by creating new mystery and inspiring new curiosity about the lands listed as unknown, in addition to new questions about what is only partly known. The river is another important symbol, perhaps our first symbol of the “heart,” which is itself a symbol of the human spirit. Always moving, not very predictable, the gateway to a wider world, it is an excellent metaphor for Marlow's trajectory. Marlow says that as a child he had a "passion" for maps, for the "glories of exploration." Although this description seems positive, it also sounds ominous. Marlow's tone is of one who recalls childhood notions with bitterness and regret.
The cause of this regret is evident in the first description of Marlow. His sallow skin and sunken cheeks do not portray him as healthy or happy. He has had the chance to explore, but apparently the experience has ruined him. This is Conrad's way of arranging the overall structure of the novella. The audience understands that this is to be a recollection, a tale that will account for Marlow's presently shaky, impenetrable state. The author is also presupposing knowledge of colonialism. The bitterness of Marlow's recollection suggests Conrad's strong bias against colonialism, which he seems to be imparting to the reader by expressing Marlow’s difficulties.
The imagery of light and dark clearly corresponds to the tension already evident between civilization and savagery. The Thames River is called a "gateway to civilization" because it leads to and from the civilized city of London. It is important to note that the city is always described in stark contrast with its dark surroundings, which are so amorphous as to be either water or land.
The vivid language of maps becomes more interesting when we consider that the word “darkness” retains its traditional meaning of evil and dread. The fact that Marlow applies the concept of darkness to conquered territories may indicate Conrad’s negative view of colonialism. We read clearly that colonists are only exploiting the weakness of others. Their spreading over the world is no nobler than violence and thievery. On the map, places that are blank and devoid of outside interference are apparently the most desirable for certain people.
Darkness has another meaning that retains deep resonance—a color of skin. Much of this chapter describes Marlow's first encounters with and observations of the natives of the African Congo. The darkness of their skin is always mentioned. At first glance, Marlow describes them as "mostly black and naked, moving about like ants." While in the shade, "dark things" seem to stir feebly. There is absolutely no differentiation between dark animals and dark people. Even the rags worn by the native people are described as tails. "Black shapes" crouch on the ground, and "creatures" walk on all fours to get a drink from the river. They are called shadows: reflections of humans, not substantial enough to be real. Marlow observes the piece of white string on a young man, and he is taken aback by how much the whiteness stands out against the darkness, thinking about the string's probable European origin. He cannot seem to conceive of mixing black and white. Conrad portrays Marlow’s experience of otherness to such an extreme, and with such literary care, that it is hard to see Conrad simply expressing his own experience through Marlow, although Conrad likely was well aware of his own and others’ impressions of such places and did have a choice in how to present them. Writing through Marlow’s experience is a choice that leads us to look through Marlow’s eyes at the darkness he sees.
It is not accidental that Marlow is the only person on the Thames boat who is named. He is a complex character while, even in England, the others are presented not so much as individuals as with titles that name their occupations. Marlow is distinct from them as well; he belongs to no category. He is a man "who does not represent his class" because he crosses boundaries. His reaction to the African natives may not be sensitive by modern standards, but he is more engaged than the other officers at the stations. The Chief Accountant dismisses the cries of a dying black man as merely irritating. Marlow's gesture of offering a biscuit to the young boy with the white string appears to be somewhat considerate. But it also seems condescending, which seems to be more of a character trait than a racist tendency. Marlow can think of nothing else to do as he looks into the boy's vacant eyes. Marlow means well, and despite his individual character he is partly a product of his society.
Immediately following the encounter with the young boy, he meets the Chief Accountant, who is perfectly attired with collar, cuffs, jacket, and all the rest. He refers to him as "amazing" and a "miracle." We observe at this moment the distinctions between savagery and civilization as perceived by Marlow. The diction demonstrates a type of hero worship for this man. His starched collars and cuffs are achievements of character, and Marlow respects him on this basis. It is far too early for readers to think we understand what Marlow is all about.
Beyond Marlow’s distinction of savagery and civilization, we have a window into Conrad’s distinction when we consider his presentation of colonialism through Marlow and the colonists. The bitter irony here is that those who look the most civilized are actually the most savage. Indeed, the institution of colonialism is referred to as a "flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil." Everything it touches turns sour: the station is an administrative nightmare, and decaying machinery lies everywhere. Marlow takes this situation, however, as indicative of a poor work ethic, which he despises. For this reason he is drawn to the blustering accountant, who is a hard worker if nothing else. Marlow, in his own bumbling way, does occasionally try to relate to the natives.
The sense of time throughout the chapter is highly controlled. Conrad purposely glides over certain events while he examines others in minute detail. He does this in order to build suspicion about the place to which Marlow has committed himself. Notice that he painstakingly describes precursor events such as the doctor's visit and all conversations that involve the unseen character Kurtz. Thus begins Marlow's consuming obsession with this man.
So far, Marlow’s interest in Kurtz is more or less inactive and does not inspire fear. Perfectly placed leading questions such as the one about a history of family insanity have the desired effect, however, of alerting readers to a rather fishy situation. That Marlow ignores all of these warnings creates some dramatic irony; it will take him longer to arrive at conclusions that the reader has already reached.
It also is important to recognize that Marlow is telling a story. His recollections have a hazy, dreamy quality. The narrative is thus an examination of human spirit through his perspective, which is quite subjective. Thus, we should question how trustworthy the narrative speakers are. This situation puts even more distance between Conrad’s perspective and the perspective taken by characters in the story. The outside narrator only refers to what Marlow says and does; all others are ignored, and we understand their perspective only through Marlow’s account of what they say and do. Marlow selects the facts (even though Conrad ultimately selects them). Readers interested in this topic should consider in particular Marlow's perception of the African environment, which develops into the novella’s larger themes.
So far as Kurtz is concerned, there has been incomplete communication. Marlow and the reader know him, but not much, yet. He seems sinister; people discuss him in a hushed manner, making sure to praise him. The fact that nobody has anything negative to say about him is suspicious, suggesting that they are all terribly anxious to stay on his good side. The portrait of the blind woman holding a torch, in the first agent's room, suggests the failing of Kurtz: perhaps he has blindly traveled into a situation and has become absorbed in it, much as the woman is absorbed into the darkness of the painting (despite the torch, she is painted in insufficient light). This preemptive warning is useful to keep in mind as we consider subsequent chapters.

Summary and Analysis of Part Two
While lying on the deck of his steamboat one evening, Marlow overhears a conversation between the Manager and his uncle, leader of the Expedition group that has arrived. Snatches of talk indicate that the two are conferring about Kurtz. The Manager says he was "forced to send him there." They say his influence is frightful, and they add that he is alone, having sent away all his assistants. The word "ivory" is also overheard. The two men are wondering how all this ivory has arrived and why Kurtz did not return to the main station as he should have. Marlow believes that this circumstance allows him to see Kurtz for the first time. The Manager and his uncle say that either Kurtz or his assistant must be hanged as an example, so that they can get rid of unfair competition. Realizing that Marlow is nearby, they stop talking.
Over the next few days, the Expedition goes into the wilderness and loses all of their donkeys. As they arrive at the bank below Kurtz's station, Marlow is excited at the prospect of meeting him soon. To Marlow, traveling up the river is like going to the beginning of the world. He sees no joy in the sunshine, however. The past comes back to haunt him on this river.
There is a stillness that does not resemble peace. It is alive and watching Marlow. He is concerned about scraping the bottom of his steamship on the river floor, which is disgraceful for seamen. Twenty "cannibals" are his crew. The Manager and some pilgrims are also on board. Sailing by stations, they hear the word "ivory" resonating everywhere. The massive trees make Marlow feel very small. The earth appears "unearthly." The men are monstrous and not inhuman. This scares Marlow greatly. He believes the mind of man is capable of anything.
They creep on towards Kurtz. The ship comes across a deserted dwelling. Marlow finds a well-kept book about seamanship. It has notes in a language he cannot understand. Back on the boat, he pushes ahead.
Eight miles from Kurtz's station, the Manager decides they will stay put for the evening. No sounds are heard. As the sun rises, "complaining clamor" with "savage discord" fills the air. Everyone fears an attack. One of the black crew members says that the attackers should be handed over to them and eaten. Marlow wonders why he and the other white crew members have not been eaten, for the cannibals could easily overpower them. The Manager insincerely worries that something might have happened to Kurtz. Marlow does not believe there will be an attack because the jungle and fog seem impenetrable. No one believes him. Some men go to investigate the shore. A pattering sound is audible: flying arrows! The helmsman on the ship panics and does not steer properly. The crew fires rifles into the bushes.
A black man is shot and lies at Marlow's feet. He tries to talk but dies before he can get any words out. Marlow supposes that Kurtz has perished in this attack. He is exceedingly upset, for talking to the mythical man has become his major point of interest. In a fit of distress, Marlow throws his shoes overboard. He tells the listeners on the Thames ship that the privilege of talking to Kurtz was waiting for him. Marlow relates that Kurtz mentioned a girl and noted that his shanty was busting with ivory. Kurtz now has taken the position of "devil of the land." Originally he was well-educated, but he has become entirely native to Africa, participating in rituals and rites. Kurtz is anything but common.
Back in the battle, the helmsman is killed. Marlow throws the body overboard. After a simple funeral, the steamer continues moving. Miraculously they see Kurtz's station, which they had assumed to be lost. They see the figure of a man whom Marlow identifies as a harlequin type. This man says that Kurtz is present, and he assures them that they need not fear the natives, who are simple people. He speaks with Marlow, introducing himself as a Russian. The book Marlow holds is actually his, and he is grateful to have it returned. The Russian says the ship was attacked because the natives do not want Kurtz to leave with the crew, for he has broadened everyone's mind there.
Even in this chaotic jungle, there exists a twisted sense of morality. As the Manager and his uncle discuss Kurtz, they are willing to do anything that will get him or his assistant the Russian hanged, so that the trading field might be leveled to their advantage. They can consider this plan because "anything can be done in this country." They both still retain a sense of law, but the most base components of their personalities control their intentions. For them, the civilized law of the European continent has been discarded in favor of vigilante justice.
The revealing of these men’s predatory nature points to the theme of inchoate savagery. Conrad suggests that there are integral connections among mind, body, and nature, which underlies the issue here: the lines between the civilized and the savage are blurred. The two men propose a very savage solution to a seemingly civilized problem of economic competition.
The Congo has a metamorphic effect on the Europeans, at least in mind and perhaps also in body. Marlow sees the evil uncle "extend his short flipper of an arm for a gesture ... that seemed to beckon with a dishonouring flourish before the sunlit face of the land a treacherous appeal to the lurking death, to the hidden evil, to the profound darkness of its heart." This is one of the few instances in which a white man is animalized in this novella. The land is a living entity, one which has the potential to create evil, or to merge man back into nature.
The proprieties observed by the Manager are all completely fake. Marlows takes this as an illustration of his hollowness. One of Marlow's more personally distressing thoughts is his realization that the "monstrous" tendencies of the black "cannibals" are not inhuman tendencies, after all; the white men possess them in a different form. The African land serves to equalize persons in that what often matters most are wit and determination (although firearms and safety in numbers are important, too).
While traveling, Marlow becomes somewhat delusional. River travel brings back the past—enlarging and distorting it until it becomes an uncontrollable paranoia that he is being watched. The telling of the tale takes on the tone of an epic quest that is larger than life. There is pregnant silence and a failing of the senses. Marlow appears to be traveling deeply into his own mind. His fanatic interest in the proper working of things is evident when he states that scraping a ship on the river bottom is "sinful." The religious language, which in another context might be humorous, demonstrates Marlow’s mounting panic. This paranoia in turn diminishes his sense of reality, leaving him searching for a sense of truth and stability—making him even less reliable and even more distinct from Conrad’s own perspective. Marlow’s transformation in part helps to explain his obsession with Kurtz. Behind the myth of this mysterious figure there is a real, substantial person. Kurtz is the bogeyman of the area and, most logically, the one on whom it is easy for Marlow to fixate.
The inferiority of the natives is a constant theme. About the fireman on his ship, Marlow remarks "he was there below me ... to look at him was as edifying as seeing a dog in a parody of breeches." The lower physical position of the body corresponds to a mental and social state. The narrator participates in believing what he describes is the inherent inferiority of the blacks. In all possible aspects they appear subservient to the white men, and even seeing them wear pants amounts to no more than a warped joke. The one time that a native actually speaks is when the ship approaches the brush, right before the attack, and all he has to say is that any prisoners should be given to the crew as a meal. The narrator cannot understand why the white men were not eaten. He cannot credit the blacks with intelligence beyond instinct. During the battle, one native is shot, with Marlow and the Manager watching: "I declare it looked as though he would presently put to us some question in an understandable language, but he died without uttering a sound." For him there is no comprehension of the blacks he encounters. They are always evaluated and silenced, it seems, before they can speak. Nevertheless, Marlow does feel a real kinship to his "savage" crew, which places him above other whites in the narrative. Even here, though, he has shortcomings—his appreciation of the helmsman after he has died, for instance, seems more machine-like than humane.
The figure of Kurtz grows more enigmatic in this chapter, and we return to the theme of voices and communication. Communication fails when Marlow cannot decipher the book and when the note has an incomplete warning. Marlow's obsession with Kurtz has reached its height. Talking to him has become the entire reason for Marlow's passage through this jungle. The fact that authoritative, unpleasant figures, such as the Manager, dislike Kurtz makes the reader more receptive to him. Notice that Marlow and Kurtz are the only two characters in the entire story who are named. Everyone else is titled, detached, and therefore dehumanized. This is an effective means of drawing a relationship or some kind of comparison between the two characters before they even meet. As soon as Marlow believes that Kurtz is dead, his presence begins to dominate him more vividly—Marlow hears his voice, sees him in action. Kurtz is even stronger than death. The reason Kurtz affects Marlow so deeply is that he has turned his back on his roots and essentially become native. This demonstrates that there is much more to Marlow's personality than what appears. He is not the average European. The reader understands that we will a more accurate portrait of Marlow by examining his interactions with Kurtz.

Summary and Analysis of Part Three
Marlow is astonished at the Russian's words. He is gathering a clearer picture of Kurtz. The Russian says that he has gone so far that he does not know if he will ever get back. Apparently he has been alone with Kurtz for many months. His sense of adventure is pure, and glamour urges him onward. The Russian remembers the first night he spoke to Kurtz: he forgot to sleep, he was so captivated. Kurtz made him "see things." He has nursed this great man through illnesses and has accompanied him on explorations to villages. Kurtz has raided the country by securing the cooperation of the nearby tribe, whose members all adore him. He loses himself in ivory hunts for weeks at a time. The Russian disagrees that Kurtz is mad. Even when this bright-eyed adventurer was dismissed by his mentor, he refused to go. Kurtz went down the river alone to make another ivory raid. His illness acted up, so the Russian joined him in order to take care of him.
Presently, Kurtz lies in a hut surrounded by heads on stakes. Marlow is not very shocked at the sight. He takes this as an indication that Kurtz lacks restraint in the gratification of his lusts, a condition for which the wilderness is culpable. Marlow assumes that Kurtz was hollow inside and needed something to fill that lack. The Russian is perturbed by Marlow's attitude of skepticism. He also has heard enough about the ceremonies surrounding this revered man.
Suddenly a group of men appear around the house. They convene around the stretcher that holds the dying Kurtz. He tells the natives to leave. The pilgrims carry him to another cabin and give him his correspondence. In a raspy voice he says he is glad to meet Marlow. The Manager comes in to talk privately with Kurtz. Waiting on the boat with the Russian, Marlow sees the "apparition" of a gorgeous woman. She glitters with gold and paint, and she looks savage. She steps to the edge of the shore and eyes the steamer. She gestures violently toward the sky, turns, and disappears into the thicket. The harlequin man fears her.
The Manager emerges. Taking Marlow aside, he says they have done all they can for Kurtz. He adds that Kurtz did more harm than good for the Company. His actions were too "vigorous" for the moment. Marlow does not agree that Kurtz's method was unsound. To him, Kurtz is a remarkable man—even somehow a friend. Marlow warns the Russian to escape before he can be hanged; he states that he will keep Kurtz's reputation safe. It was Kurtz who ordered the attack on the steamer because he did not want to be taken away—Kurtz thus thought to fake his death.
While Marlow dozes, drumbeats and incantations fill the air. He looks into the cabin that holds Kurtz and discovers that he is missing. Marlow sees his trail and goes after him. The two men face one another. Kurtz pleads that he has plans. Marlow replies that his fame in Europe is assured; he realizes that this man's soul has gone mad. He is able to bring Kurtz back to the cabin. The ship departs the next day amongst a crowd of natives. Kurtz is brought into the pilot-house of the ship. The "tide of brown" runs swiftly out of the "heart of darkness." That is, the life of Kurtz is ebbing. Marlow is in disfavor, lumped into the same category as Kurtz. The Manager is now content. Marlow listens endlessly to Kurtz's bedside talk. He accepts a packet of papers and a photograph that his friend gives him, in order to keep them out of the Manager's hands. A few evenings later, Kurtz dies, with one phrase on his lips: "The horror! The horror!"
Marlow returns to Europe but is plagued by the memory of his friend. He is disrespectful to everyone he encounters. The Manager demands the papers that Kurtz entrusted to Marlow. Marlow relinquishes the technical papers but not the private letters or the photograph. All that remains of Kurtz is his memory and the photo of his "Intended." Kurtz is very much a living figure to Marlow. He visits the woman in the picture, who embraces and welcomes him. She has silently mourned for the past year, and she needs to profess her love and how she knew Kurtz better than anyone. Marlow perceives that the room darkens when she says this. She speaks of Kurtz's amazing ability to draw people in through his incredibly eloquent speech. The woman says she will be unhappy for life. Marlow states that they can always remember him. She expresses a desperate need to keep his memory alive, as well as guilt that she was not with him when he died. When the woman asks Marlow what Kurtz's final words were, he lies and says that Kurtz spoke her name. The woman weeps in triumph.
Marlow states that to tell the truth would have been too dark. Back on the Thames River ship, a tranquil waterway leads into the heart of darkness.
The Russian says it best: "I went a little farther ... till I had gone so far that I don't know how I'll ever get back." The Russian and Marlow are similar, both looking for epiphany and enlightenment. Kurtz is a possible source of this enlightenment, and he thus is the most powerful figure in the story, even though he does not appear until the end.
The author is setting forth a challenge: rather than directly describing Kurtz, he provides various clues that we must piece together in order to understand who Kurtz is. The first conversation that the Russian has with his mentor, about "everything" in life including love, points to a man who is sensitive and introspective. Kurtz speaks in civil and savage tongues. His eloquence is his forte because it disguises his darkness from people like the Russian. The woman back in Europe who mourns for him speaks of a generous heart, a noble mind, and greatness. The impressions of these two people, however, strongly contrast with the opinion of people such as the Manager, who says that Kurtz was unethically gathering ivory by inciting locals to violence.
Marlow must stand in for the reader's perspective. From what he sees and reports, the reader can infer that all such accounts are true. Yet Marlow does not see Kurtz as evil for his actions toward the natives because of his intentions. People such as the Manager truly care only about fulfilling an ivory quota and becoming wealthy. While Kurtz is certainly consumed with his search for ivory (his face and body are described in terms of this precious resource), Conrad does not provide any evidence that Kurtz is concerned with the material aspects of ivory: his house and existence are extremely simple, despite all of the ivory he has recovered. If money and fame were the only things important to him, he could have returned to England long ago. The Russian states that Kurtz "would lose himself among the people." The staked heads around his home demonstrate a lack of restraint "in the gratification of various lusts." They are necessary for a man with a great appetite. Apparently, the time in the African Congo has been a time of letting go for Kurtz, a time in which passions and appetites become unbridled, and in which the past no longer matters.
This is a type of traveler’s sickness. The image of Kurtz on his deathbed is of his opening his mouth wide, giving him a "voracious aspect" as if he wants to absorb and swallow everything. His need to plan and consume, however, has consumed his mind and spirit. It is a remarkable case of colonialism gone awry: "the wilderness had found him out early, and had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion." Curiosity that leads to exploration can also lead, tragically, to a loss of self. Herein lies a sociopolitical message, a caution against trying to control something that is not originally a part of you, lest it control you. Expressing oneself in a new environment can mean the loss of one’s earlier self.
Marlow does not condemn Kurtz because he pities him, sympathizing with his tortured existence. The moment when Marlow stands between Kurtz and the horned, demonic-looking man is critical. This figure symbolizes the death and darkness of Kurtz, and he only turns away from complete desolation because Marlow is there to help him back. Despite the circumstances, however, there is an undercurrent of history that makes Kurtz's death seem karmic. The devotion shown to him by the natives illustrates an almost reciprocal relationship between them. While it is most likely that they help Kurtz without understanding the material benefits behind the ivory, it is clear that Kurtz enjoys being a part of them as much as they enjoy having him there. He is definitely the least biased character in the whole book, which speaks highly for him in the eyes of a modern reader. Unfortunately, he loses himself and detaches from everything earthly. Kurtz's soul has broken forbidden boundaries because it only concentrated on itself.
Kurtz dies painfully both because his obsessive tasks were not complete and because his soul has been sold. The "horror" he pronounces on his deathbed is a judgment on how he has lived his life. We can definitely see Kurtz's demise as a possible end for Marlow if he had not left the Congo. As it was, the wilderness was already creeping and merging into his psyche, and there was a moment when he could not tell the difference between a drum beat and his own heartbeat. He appears to have escaped in time.
Marlow's lie at the end of the story is both cruel and compassionate. While the woman is comforted, she will have to continue believing in an illusion. She will never know what Kurtz became. Marlow states that the truth is "too dark" to tell. But truly, his terrible decline is in vain if no one learns of it. And is the woman so weak that she cannot really hear the truth? Telling Kurtz’s tale is the point of Marlow's telling his story aboard the Thames ship. A river can lead to civilization—but it also leads to darkness.