Essay on Brothers Under The Skin : Achebe On Heart Of Darkness

Essay on Brothers Under The Skin : Achebe On Heart Of Darkness

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Bruce Fleming’s article, "Brothers under the Skin: Achebe on Heart of Darkness” begins by affirming, “most of Conrad’s time is spent developing the differences between the two groups, rather than their likeness” (91). Fleming mentions Achebe’s claim as Watt did—that Joseph Conrad is racist. However, Fleming says writers in general, “explain one people to another” (95) and “works of literature are nothing but the situations and phrases out of which they are constructed” (98). Literature shows issues, but rarely solves the issues. Yes, Fleming agrees Conrad completely ignored the Natives altogether, but Fleming also thinks Achebe is being a tad hypocritical when calling him a racist. Conrad is not the only author who portrays a problem in a one-sided manner (Fleming 91). Fleming suggests, instead of ridiculing one drawback to a text, like the one-sided point of view, readers must find the meaning in the whole picture to interpret the text.
Florence Ridley approves of Fleming’s suggestion: to consider the whole picture in order to find meaning. Additionally, Ridley thinks Conrad is artfully clarifying that societal and personal issues have two sides: “The story is built upon the balance of opposites, a core of faith versus hollowness, restraint versus its lack, civilization versus savagery, light versus darkness” (49). I agree, although nothing can be simple when reading literature, because one must think about the variety of point of views. You can’t just say “this versus this” and find the center of the story. But what gets me upset by Ridley’s article is that she has the audacity to write, “Conrad was concerned with the process of acquiring understanding of Self” (45). So, H.O.D was written selfishly by Conrad so he could find ex...

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...rkness will never have a center and readers will never fully know Conrad’s true intentions if one is viewing the text through an impressionism lens. After reading articles about Heart of Darkness, I believe Joseph Conrad knew exactly what he was doing. The novel is so creatively complex and full of uncertainty to be accidental. Do I think Conrad was racist? Yes. But, I also think Conrad was bluntly illustrating the flaws of people who stay in their comfort zones, and the struggles of how humanity establishes moral ethics. I want to end this paper with a quote from Heart of Darkness, which I take as one of the leading themes to the story: “What made this emotion so overpowering was—how shall I define it—the moral shock I received, as if something altogether monstrous, intolerable to thought and odious to the soul had been thrust upon me unexpectedly” (Conrad 64).

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