lighthod Detachment in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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Detachment in Heart of Darkness In the book Heart of Darkness, Marlowe only allows himself to form only one bond. Marlowe allows himself to form a small "safe" attachment to Kurtz because Kurtz is already very attached. He does not form any other bonds. In fact, he uses his racism to eliminate the possibility of having feelings for about ninety nine percent of the African population. Marlowe not only looks at the African people as being to different from him to be normal, but he goes so far as to describe Africa as being another world, a world containing savages. He would not let himself become attached to this land, or it's inhabitants. Anytime he feels himself having a relationship with anyone, he purposely stops himself from feeling, fearing that opening himself up may result in rejection and/or heartbreak. He claimed that he felt a connection with Kurtz this, I believe, is because he knew that this was "safe." This was "safe" because he knew that Kurtz would die before any real attachment could be made. He also knew that Kurtz would not have the same feeling for him as he had for Kurtz. This is because Kurtz already had two girlfriends, and a best friend (the Russian). This was something that Marlowe could deal with because Kurtz was already deeply involved so it held little risk for intense attachment. This is also shown when the helmsman, man who steers the ship, gets killed. Marlowe says that he liked that man because he was reliable, and not mush else. He did not even shed a tear for a man that he worked everyday with for the last six months. He simply threw him overboard, thinking about it for only a few minutes and then, he walked away. The Cannibals on the ship were starving. They had almost no food with them, and were not given the opportunity to buy food. The helmsman body could have been enough food for all of them for awhile. Marlowe, acting in character, did not care about this. He said that it may start a bad chain of events. Because of this all of the Cannibals went hungry for the rest of the trip. Going along with his inability to have healthy relationships with people and his inability to care, is his racism. This racism acts as a good buffer against attachment.

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