Heart of Darkness

by: Joseph Conrad

Important Quotations Explained

2
“In a few days the Eldorado Expedition went into the patient wilderness, that closed upon it as the sea closes over a diver. Long afterwards the news came that all the donkeys were dead. I know nothing as to the fate of the less valuable animals. They, no doubt, like the rest of us, found what they deserved. I did not inquire.”

During the first section of Part 2, Marlow watches the Eldorado Exploring Expedition, a band of freelance bandits, reequip and then depart from the Central Station. This enigmatic report is the only news he receives concerning their fate. The dry irony of this quote is characteristic of Marlow, who by this point has truly come to see white men as the “less valuable animals.” Although he chalks up the Expedition’s fate to some idea of destiny or just reward, Marlow has already come to distrust such moral formulations: this is why he does not seek further information about the Expedition. Again he mentions a “patient wilderness”: the Expedition’s fate is insignificant in the face of larger catastrophes and even less meaningful when considered in the scope of nature’s time frame.