Cane: “Box Seat”

“Through the cement floor her strong roots sink down. They spread under the asphalt streets. Dreaming, the streets roll over on their bellies, and suck their glossy health from them. Her strong roots sink down and spread under the river and disappear in blood-lines that waver south…The eyes of the woman don’t belong to her. They look at him unpleasantly” (85).

Using personification to animate body parts, in turn (ironically?) dehumanizing the referent of this description, that is, this specific black woman Dan sees in the audience. 

Toomer, Jean.”Box Seat.” Cane. New York: Liveright. 2011. 85. Print.


Heart of Darkness

“The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretense but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea — something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to…”

In an almost poetic manner, Marlow presents the basis for which conquerors wreck havoc on those they deem weaker than them. Their actions are based on an idea they have been ingrained with to follow so as not to scrutinize and keep at bay the dark truth lurking underneath.

Heart of Darkness

“These round knobs were not ornamental, but symbolic; they were expressive and puzzling, striking and disturbing–food for thought and also for the vultures if there had been any looking down from the sky; but at all events for such ants as were industrious enough to ascent the pole. They would have been even more impressive, those heads on the stakes, if their faces had not been turned to the house.”

James Conrad, “Heart of Darkness,” in Heart of Darkness and Other Tales (New York, Oxford University Press: 2008), 164.

Conrad uses excess fillers that undermine and delay the fact that Marlow is describing severed heads on stakes, not decorations. Through Marlow’s narration, Conrad describes something grotesque and inhumane as if he’s critiquing someone’s home decor.

Heart of Darkness

“The horror! The horror!”

Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness”, in Heart of Darkness and Other Tales (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2002), 178.

In reference to the horrors that Kurtz experienced in Africa. This one quote encompasses the entire plot and in a sense makes the reader realize the same truth about life that Kurtz has.