“I asked myself sometimes what it all meant. They wandered here and there with their absurd long staves in their hands, like a lot of faithless pilgrims bewitched inside a rotten fence. The word ‘ivory’ rang in the air, was whispered, was sighed. You would think they were praying to it. A taint of imbecile rapacity blew through it all, like a whiff from some corpse. By Jove! I’ve never seen anything so unreal in my life. And outside, the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck on the earth struck me as something great and invincible, like evil or truth, waiting patiently for the passing away of this fantastic invasion.” (27)
Conrad, Joseph. “Heart of Darkness.” New York: Penguin Group, 2007. Print.
“Faithless pilgrims” bearing cross-like “staves” and the imperialist/industrialist lust for ivory in this passage juxtaposes religious belief with capitalist fervor. Meanwhile, the “silent wilderness” observes all of this from an objective and timeless point of view, putting such a terrible juxtaposition into a broader context.