Trading Company' marvels at the incompetence of Kayerts and Carlier, who . matters of space, place, and mapping in relation to social and cultural studies. When he dies of a fever his replacement is Kayerts, with Carlier as Gobila and his villagers cut off relations (and supplies) with the station. pinpointed that the irony perceived in his depiction of Kayerts and Carlier . Makola (a Sierra Leone man in charge of the relationship with the locals at the.
There were two white men in charge of the trading station. Kayerts the chief, was short and fat. Carlier, the assistant, was tall, with a large head and a very broad trunk perched upon a long pair of thin legs. The third man on the staff was a Sierra Leone nigger, who maintained that his name was Henry Price.
However, for some reason or other, the natives down the river had given him the name Makola, and it stuck with him through all his wanderings about the country. He spoke English and French with a warbling accent, wrote a beautiful hand, understood book-keeping, and cherished in his innermost heart the worship of evil spirits.
His wife was a negress from Loanda, very large and very noisy. Three children rolled about in sunshine before the door of his low shed-like dwelling.
Makola, taciturn and impenetrable, despised the two white men. He had charge of a small clay storehouse with a dried grass roof, and pretended to keep a correct account of beads, cotton cloth, red kerchiefs, brass wire, and other trade goods it contained.
It was built neatly of reeds, with a verandah on all the four sides.
An Outpost of Progress
There were three rooms in it. The one in the middle was the living-room, and had two rough tables and a few stools in it. The other two were the bedrooms for the white men, Each had a bedstead and a mosquito net for all furniture. The plank floor was littered with the belongings of the white men: There was also another dwelling-place some distance away from the buildings.
A close reading 1. It is their assistant Makola who really does all the work and determines what goes on, whilst they are hopelessly incompetent.
The two names Kayerts and Carlier suggest that the story is set in the Belgian Congo. Kayerts is a Flemish name, and Carlier is French, these being the two linguistic groups which comprise Belgium. The physical description of the two men emphasises their difference in the manner of comic music-hall double acts of the Laurel and Hardy, Little and Large variety.
He is also a skilled clerk. Thus he has absorbed European culture, in contrast to the two Europeans who are completely incapable of absorbing his. Yet he still worships evil spirits.
In other words, he has a foot in both cultures. This is why she understands what the slave traders are saying later in the story.
An Outpost of Progress - a tutorial and study guide
It tells us that Makola keeps his feelings and his motivation well hidden. Such details contribute to the reason why Africa in a moral sense defeats the two Europeans in the story. The exchange is therefore unfair, and the Africans are being cheated. The mosquito nets would be important, because the two men are close to the equator, and therefore a long way away from their European homeland. Moreover, the previous chief of the trading post has died of fever. The two men do not know how to look after themselves.
The river, the forest, all the great land throbbing with life, were like great emptiness. Even the brilliant sunshine disclosed nothing intelligible.
Things appeared and disappeared before their eyes in an unconnected and aimless kind of way. The river seemed to come from nowhere and flow nowhither. Another symbol is the trading station itself, which marks an intersection of two cultural norms.
This patronising term is approvingly commented upon with a Euro-centric explanation, i. II-Representations and misrepresentations 8From the outset, Conrad orientates our reading towards the issue of what should be a civilised and decent representation of Empire in Africa, precisely by sketching an unrepresentative pair of agents: They are mock-heroes who belie the qualities of efficiency and determination which reputedly characterise European commerce in Africa.
They are written off by their director as mentally unfit for their mission, which is why they are appointed to a far-off and barely productive trading station. I told those fellows to plant a vegetable garden, build new store houses and fences and construct a landing stage. I bet nothing will be done! I always thought the station on this river is useless, and they just fit the station.
Indeed, their house is poorly kept, and for edibles the two men rely on the dwindling Company supplies of pulse and rice since they have not planted a vegetable garden to support themselves as their director told them to do before his departure.
Deflation is very much the privileged medium for their moral portrait, and they are recurrently shown as poor examples of imperial authority and inventiveness. His composure and steadfastness counterpoint the carelessness of his white superiors.
The switching of roles is well rendered in this exchange, when Kayerts discovers that their native workers have been sold: I forbid you to touch them.
Conrad’s Picture of Irony in “An Outpost of Progress”
I order you to throw them into the river. If you are so irritable in the sun, you will get fever and die- like the first chief! The very title of this short story reads like an intended derision, a tone which is applied throughout the narrative. It spoke much of the rights and duties of civilisation, of the sacredness of civilised work, and extolled the merits of those who went about bringing light, and faith, and commerce to the dark places of the world First, the trading post is itself downgraded by its managers.
Conrad adds gothic visual and sound effects to make the tale oscillate between drama and grotesque. This accumulation of lugubrious details metaphorically enshrouds the colonial enterprise with a sense of gravity and ethical questioning.
His personal history was a disgraceful paradigm of shameful things, from the desertion of the ideals of his Polish heritage to the seemingly capricious abandonment of his sea life.