"They were dying slowly -- it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now -- nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom. Brought from all the recesses of the coast in all the legality of time contracts, lost in uncongenial surroundings, fed on unfamiliar food, they sickened, became inefficient, and were then allowed to crawl away and rest. These moribund shapes were free as air -- and nearly as thin. I began to distinguish the gleam of the eyes under the trees. Then, glancing down, I saw a face near my hand. The black bones reclined at full length with one shoulder against the tree, and slowly the eyelids rose and the sunken eyes looked up at me, enormous and vacant, a kind of blind, white flicker in the depths of the orbs, which died out slowly. The man seemed young -- almost a boy -- but you know with them it's hard to tell. I found nothing else to do but to offer him one of my good Swede's ship's biscuits I had in my pocket. The fingers closed slowly on it and held -- there was no other movement and no other glance. He had tied a bit of white worsted round his neck -- Why? Where did he get it? Was it a badge -- an ornament -- charm -- a propitiatory act? Was there any idea at all connected with it? It looked startling round his black neck, this bit of white thread from beyond the seas."
This selection from "Heart of Darkness" is recognized by most critics, whether as good or bad. Achebe writes that Marlow is able to express these "bleeding-heart sentiments" because it goes along with the "advanced and humane views appropriate to the English liberal tradition which required all Englishmen of decency to be deeply shocked by atrocities in...the Congo..." But Marlow was a sailor who really didn't care about "English liberal traditions" or much of what anyone thought. For example, he knew by defending Kurtz, he would begin to be hated on board the boat, and that is exactly what happened. "My hour of favour was over; I found myself lumped along with Kurtz as a partisan of methods for which the time was not ripe. I was unsound." Achebe says that this liberalism touched all of the best minds of Europe and America, but it sidestepped "the ultimate question of equality between white people and black people." It somehow, in his opinion, lessened the importance of the Africans by making them smaller. I believe it simply demonstrated the inability of the Europeans to act with morality, to show sound judgment and caring of other people. It shows the utter darkness of man and his conquests.