By D. C. R. A. Goonetilleke
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The tale ends in the Eastern port from which it led out; this symmetry rounds off the tale plot-wise and thematically. Conrad confirms the captain's growth: 'And there's another thing; a man should stand up to his bad luck, to his mistakes, to his conscience, and all that sort of thing. ' I kept silent. ' 'God only knows, Captain Giles', was my sincere answer.... 'I am going on board directly', I said. 'I shall pick up one of my anchors and heave in to half-cable on the other as soon as my new crew comes on board and I shall be off at daylight to-morrow'.
Wondered the Captain, gravely. ' 'Why, the Chinamen, sir,' explained Jukes, very sick of this conservation. 'The Chinamen! Why don't you speak plainly? Couldn't tell what you meant. Never heard a lot of coolies spoken of as passengers before. Passengers, indeed! ' He [MacWhirr] raised his eyes, saw Jukes gazing at him dubiously, and tried to illustrate his meaning. 'About as queer as your extraordinary notion of dodging the ship 48 Developing Countries in British Fiction head to sea, for I don't know how long, to make the Chinamen comfortable; whereas all we've got to do is to take them to Fu-chau, being timed to get there before noon on Friday.
But the conventional views were so influential and insidious that even people such as he succumbed unwittingly to certain prejudices especially when they knew little about negroes. He was no worse than, say, Thackeray. From New York, Thackeray wrote: 'Sambo is not my man and my brother; the very aspect of his face is grotesque and inferior'. 6 Conrad's view of the negro, then, has an element of conventionality and these artistic deficiencies recur in a minor way. Yet the very choice 42 Developing Countries in British Fiction of a negro for an important role during this extremely prejudice-ridden period indicates that his view has room for exceptional liberalism, too.