Essay on Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad And State Of Wonder

Essay on Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad And State Of Wonder

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When an individual travels into unknown territory, their greatest chance of survival is in gaining an understanding of the land and the people that inhabit it. The natives are the people who understand the location and what simple missteps could lead to death. The natives live in a world different from the travelers, and the knowledge they carry is greater than anything brought from home. How a character adapts to the environment influences their survival and what they retain after returning home. In Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett the main characters must adjust to being in an unknown location or face death. The narrators of State of Wonder and Heart of Darkness journey into unfamiliar territory, however in State of Wonder Marina acclimates herself to the natives, while in Heart of Darkness Marlow separates himself from the natives.
One commonality between the two characters is a state of wonder at the beginning of their journey into the jungle. They share a common interest in the wild, overgrown nature enveloping their voyage. This characterization transforms to fit their initial impression of the natives that inhabit the region. Their initial impression of natives relates them to the wild wilderness that surrounds them, and that they are not in any way similar to themselves. In State of Wonder Marina has been traveling in a jungle absent of people, when all at once a large group of natives appear in the night. After a period of solidarity, Marina remarks on the natives as being “truly the worst-case scenario” (Patchett 185). She knew they were eventually going to meet the Lakashi, but is still uncomfortable with the abrupt meeting. Marina would rather have an image of the Lakashi instead o...


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...wever, he does have a better understanding of their ‘savagery’ and why the natives act as they do. The jungle is still not safe for his crew, and one step out of line could end in their deaths, and yet Marlow still begins to understand more about their nature. He begins to recognize that “uncomplicated savagery was a positive relief” and that their actions were natural (Conrad 165). He still refers to the natives as savages, but has a greater understanding as to why they are savage. Marlow gains more confidence in how to act around the natives, but is still quick to leave the region with Kurtz. Ultimately both characters have a better understanding of the natives than they did at their initial encounters of the groups. Since Marina worked to understand the natives and lived among them, she had a better comprehension on how to survive compared to Marlow’s hesitations.

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