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What does Marlow realize about the "slim posts ... with their upper ends ornamented with round carved balls," and how does this realization affect Marlow's understanding of Kurtz?
Marlow realizes the balls are carved from ivory, so he understands that Kurtz is not only interested in the ivory from a pecuniary perspective.
Marlow realizes the balls are intricately carved, so he realizes that Kurtz is a talented artist who is attempting to maintain his European habits.
Marlow realizes that the balls are dried heads, so he understands that Kurtz has lost restraint and resorted to violence and fear as motivators.
Marlow realizes that the balls are dried heads, so he understands that the native idolize Kurtz and they bring him "trophies" of their conquests of neighboring tribes.
Marlow realizes that the balls are solid copper, so he understands that Kurtz has not severed ties with Europe and is still engaging in trade for things such as copper.