Heart of Darkness

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Food for the Cannibals


In the following passage from section 2, Marlow is confused yet amazed by the fact that the cannibals did not eat him and his crew.

Identify the FOUR sentences in which Marlow explains why he and his men were not eaten.

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Why in the name of all the gnawing devils of hunger they didn't go for us -- they were thirty to five -- and have a good tuck-in for once, amazes me now when I think of it. They were big powerful men, with not much capacity to weigh the consequences, with courage, with strength, even yet, though their skins were no longer glossy and their muscles no longer hard. And I saw that something restraining, one of those human secrets that baffle probability, had come into play there. I looked at them with a swift quickening of interest -- not because it occurred to me I might be eaten by them before very long, though I own to you that just then I perceived -- in a new light, as it were -- how unwholesome the pilgrims looked, and I hoped, yes, I positively hoped, that my aspect was not so -- what shall I say? -- so -- unappetizing: a touch of fantastic vanity which fitted well with the dream-sensation that pervaded all my days at that time. ... Yes; I looked at them as you would on any human being, with a curiosity of their impulses, motives, capacities, weaknesses, when brought to the test of an inexorable physical necessity. Restraint! What possible restraint? Was it superstition, disgust, patience, fear -- or some kind of primitive honour? No fear can stand up to hunger, no patience can wear it out, disgust simply does not exist where hunger is; and as to superstition, beliefs, and what you may call principles, they are less than chaff in a breeze. Don't you know the devilry of lingering starvation, its exasperating torment, its black thoughts, its sombre and brooding ferocity? Well, I do. It takes a man all his inborn strength to fight hunger properly. It's really easier to face bereavement, dishonour, and the perdition of one's soul -- than this kind of prolonged hunger. Sad, but true. And these chaps, too, had no earthly reason for any kind of scruple. Restraint! I would just as soon have expected restraint from a hyena prowling amongst the corpses of a battlefield. But there was the fact facing me -- the fact dazzling, to be seen, like the foam on the depths of the sea, like a ripple on an unfathomable enigma , a mystery greater -- when I thought of it -- than the curious, inexplicable note of desperate grief in this savage clamour that had swept by us on the river-bank, behind the blind whiteness of the fog .