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Thread: Heart of Darkness - Racist?

  1. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Montopoli View Post
    If Heart of Darkness is considered racist, then what should be said of all other novels that provide a critical analysis of a people or area? Conrad simply describes the treatment of the Congolese, and accepts what was being done, as was the custom in 1899, when the novel was published. If anything, the crux of the book is found in his critical analysis of Colonialism and how the white Belgians are the culprit for the Darkness in the title. Everywhere you see, he describes the Congolese as humble and pure, 'prehistoric' if one of the older posts on this thread is correct.
    If someone immediately deems the novel faulty because Conrad portrayed the blacks in Africa as they were and that they were mistreated, then what the hell is the point? His aim was to present Europe with a true portrayal of Colonialism (and also the effects of lawless society and thusly the expression of every man's unconscious, but that's for another time). And just because he uses 'nigger' in the novel does not make him racist, although of course now, when we have numerous ignorant champions of equality storming the internet and there is an African-American President, that is not suitable, but back then, it was a name used by Americans and Europeans. But it is only a name.
    If Conrad's real intent was to present the blacks as the wild savages all European society had pictured, and only THEN succumbed to racism, he would have, because he was a competent writer, but he didn't focus his critical eye on that. He turned on Colonialism and the whites, which raises another question: Was he racist towards whites due to how they treated the Congolese?
    (And if your answer is yes, then my next question is: Really?)
    A black man went to get his welfare check, and as he approached the counter, he said, "why don't you give this nigger your job. I would give you two thirds of my salary for you doing nothing. And I'd even let you call me nigger anytime."
    Last edited by cafolini; 02-12-2013 at 09:12 PM.

  2. #47
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    Numerous accusations have been held at the book as racist, but personally, I feel that it may feel racist because of the time. The derogatory term "negro" and "nigger" were a common word used at the time, and held at today's standards would be racist, but this book was written when "nigger" was a common everyday word.
    Another point is that the setting is at a slave camp. There is no physical way to get around the setting. Just because the setting is a slave camp does not make the book racist. At this slave camp, numerous of the leaders are cruel to the slaves, which is wrong and racist, but this was how slave camps worked.
    Would you say that Uncle Tom's Cabin is racist because it involves slavery? No. Therefore, Heart Of Darkness should not be considered racist.

  3. #48
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    I believe that the Heart of Darkness is not racist in that Conrad is being racist when he writes, however I believe he is depicting a viewpoint of many Europeans at the time, and telling their views of Africans. Conrad writes through Kurtz's words about how the Africans are a noble people, however Marlow still holds some views of racism and inferiority. Even in the scene where Marlow's boat is being fired upon, he talks about how childish the bows and arrows of the Africans are.

  4. #49
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    I wonder if it would be racist of me to describe the Highlands of Scotland in the Seventeenth century as having interesting and profound qualities as a civilisation but to have been trapped in arbitrary barbarism and brutality. No, just realistic.
    I might like Wole Soyinka's tongue-in-cheek "Hurrah for those who have invented nothing" but reality tends to bite the arses of the virtue-signallers. Some cultures are clearly more advanced than others.

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