By Daniel R. Schwarz (auth.)
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Extra resources for Conrad: Almayer’s Folly to Under Western Eyes
Vii). The artist's mission is to reveal the experience that unites all men and, in particular, to make the reader aware of the common humanity each shares with mankind. The artist appeals to that part of our being which is not dependent on wisdom; tp that in us which is a gift and not an acquisition-and, therefore, more permanently enduring. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives; to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain; to the latent feeling of fellowship with all creation-and to the subtle but invincible conviction of solidarity that knits together the loneliness of innumerable hearts, to the solidarity in dreams, in joy, in sorrow, in aspirations, in illusions, in hope, in fear, which binds men to 24 Conrad: Almayer's Folly to Under Western Eyes each other, which binds together all humanity-the dead to the living and, the living to the unborn.
Arsat's fantasy of escaping mortality through love is a universal human aspiration; his hope 'to fmd a country where death is forgotten-where death is unknown' is one to which the white man responds. Arsat says his people 'take what they want-like you whites' and speaks oracularly of qualities and behaviour common to all men. That the white man provides the gun which enables Arsat to run off with his beloved is Conrad's way of showing how each person is inexorably linked to the fate of his fellows and how our actions have completely unforeseen consequences.
After the white man recreates the process of discovering that Karain's public personality masks a tortured private self, Karain himself becomes the teller. But the title insists upon the original speaker's consciousness as a subject of importance. Clearly the self-dramatising narrator is a step towards Conrad's development of the engaged narrator pondering over and struggling with the meaning of another's or his own experiences. The white man, who is trying to discover the source and meaning of Karain's vulnerability and 'unrest', is an early version of the narrator whose efforts to penetrate into the psyche of a complex character climax with growth in the narrator's self-knowledge.