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Ivory and Women  

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royzieglerh70
(@royzieglerh70)
Bookworm AP Lit 2020
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March 3, 2020 6:15 pm  

In terms of the motivators for Kurtz, Marlow sees the main pursuit which has drawn him into the jungle as the ivory which has been extracted from the colony and has served as the motivation for both Marlow and Kurtz to journey to the Congo. The ivory itself is not, as far as Marlow is concerned, disturbing. This, after all, is what the company trades in. Therefore, the horror that Kurtz speaks of in his final lines of the novel does not refer to the company’s trade in ivory. Marlow joins the company fully aware that it is run for profit. However, the most disturbing aspect of the company to Marlow is the method, or lack of one, that he brings up to the manager. In Marlow's mind, and I believe in the minds of many of the readers, Kurtz's lust for women and his lust for ivory are linked. Kurtz has, says Marlow, an "appetite" for ivory, and lacks "restraint in the gratification of his various lusts". What seems particularly repulsive to Marlow is that Kurtz should consort with the Africans, becoming one of them, for the sake of the ivory. Do you agree that Kurtz’s lust for ivory and his power over the Africans are intrinsically linked? Is one inherently caused by the other?


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graceirla
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March 5, 2020 10:06 pm  

I hadn't thought about Kurtz's motivation like that before. Marlow states many times in the novel that Kurtz was a complicated man, and no one truly ever knew him, including his intended. The phrase "ivory and women" however, makes me think specifically about his intended. Ivory is considered white and pure, much like his intended is described. Her purity and incredible whiteness are reiterated throughout the entire scene when Marlow meets her, leaving it almost impossible not to think of her as similar to ivory. Ivory to Kurtz is something he's incredibly greedy for, going so far as to ignore the basic human rights of Africans to obtain it. Is his intended like this for him too? I believe that his greed and need for power in ivory are linked somehow in his desire for his white intended. She's quiet, pure, and from what Marlow sees, the perfect wife. Kurtz has already conquered her, which I believe is the reason for his desire for a mistress in Africa. Kurtz has a need to conquer, which makes itself present in both the ivory trade and the women he chooses. 


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kesar
(@kesar)
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March 6, 2020 8:43 pm  

I think that Kurtz's power over the Africans are linked because his power over them facilitates his acquiring more ivory. What is interesting to me is that Kurtz does not seem particularly interested in the money that the ivory will bring him, as he stops sending shipments back to the other stations. Rather, he just seems fixated on the finding and retrieving of it, which fits with what Grace was saying about his desire for conquest.


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royemmis25
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March 20, 2020 10:51 am  

@kesar

I also agree that Kurtz’s obsession may not be to obtain ivory for money, but so he can have the thrill of the hunt. This could be a reason the natives view him differently than the other colonists around the camp. It is like he is more obsessed with the idea of killing  and stalking than the reward. His time in the jungle seems to have warped what he decides is his top priority in africa. One thing I also wondered was what is he doing with the ivory from the kills? Maybe he is giving it to the mistress.


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