Reflective Statement Essay

1712 words - 7 pages

In this essay I will discuss the relevance of socio-cultural context in the novel; I will discuss various topics, such as: slavery, colonialism (politics) and the author’s nationality. I have chosen these three main topics because they are the most relevant and debated ones,, especially slavery (it was argued if the text was racist).
Firstly, I will talk about slavery because of the way Joseph Conrad describes the African slaves (the black people), for example: “Near the same tree two more bundles of acute angles sat with their legs drawn up. One, with his chin propped on his knees, stared at nothing, in an intolerable and appalling manner, his brother phantom rested its forehead, as if ...view middle of the document...

He accepted the job only because of his expectative, so he didn’t know what he was going to see there, what would justify his amazement when he first saw the black people. It is also true that people, in general, cannot really be aware of the problem or of any experience at all until they go through it and have the opportunity to experience it (cannot really face problems or know what they are, until they have gone through that experience). I find any kind of racism or injustice intolerable, and I think that achieving equality within races is not easy and even now a day, there is still some racism present, so what we find in the novel is expected. Apart from what I have just mentioned, there are several facts showing Marlow is not racist.
He shows compassion towards the black members of the boat. He never showed cruelty, and when the helmsman died he decides to throw his corpse overboard so the cannibals won’t eat him, which is a sign of respect and compassion; in addition, he says that he will never forget the look in his face.
Another example is when Marlow first arrives at Congo and sees all the African people dying under the shadow of a tree. He is so shocked when he offers his own food to them, who are strangers (he is showing an equal treat), and he could not forget that image, a feeling, that in my opinion, is impossible to have when not seeing them as equals and humans.
Another example showing that Marlow thinks every life worth the same is when, in the attack to the steam boat, he decides to blow the steam instead of letting the crew be shot, as he knew that this would keep everyone (including the attackers) harmless and safe.
When he is comparing the helmsman´s to Kurtz’s death, he says: that Kurtz did not worth a life. He is showing care and appreciation towards the African man.
Many people claim that one of the reasons of considering this text as racist is that the author uses the word “nigger” in his novel to describe the Africans, but the truth is that this word didn’t become a pejorative word until 1904 and by the time the novel was written, it was just another word for a black colored person.
Overall, after all the examples I stated before, I don’t consider Joseph Conrad as a racist person, but as a person who tries to make a critique of the terrible injustices happening at that time, such as slavery. He just tells us what was happening at that time, as he tries to make us see how many slaves suffered under colonialism, without insulting or showing any kind of disrespect toward the slaves.
Secondly, I will talk about colonialism (politics). I will talk about this in particular because I find that it is really obvious how Marlow criticizes not only British colonialism but colonialism in general. He is continuously talking about it and making pejorative comments about the colonizers and society in general (suggesting that colonialism is a plague which has pass on to everyone).
He shows us his dislike towards it in several...

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