Good meal

In Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Marlow realises that the black people on board are starving. They have only some rotten hippo meat on board but the white people on board, the “Pilgrims”, had thrown much of it overboard. They were also given pieces of brass wire, which they were to trade for food in river-side villages, but often the director does not stop the steamer in those places. In a moment of sudden illumination, Marlow becomes aware that the blacks on board are man-eaters. He is frightened and wonders what it is that holds them back from attacking the whites. They are in the majority and they are strong. At the same time, looking at the “Pilgrims” (whom he despises) Marlow looks rather unwholesome and, he hopes, unappatizing to the blacks. A fantastic touch of vanity he realises that they are rather pale and weak and would not make good food. He wishes he himself looks better and offers a more promising chance of a good meal. (Conrad, Joseph: The Heart of Darkness. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1984: 87-90).

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