57 pages 1 hour read

Joseph Conrad

An Outpost Of Progress

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1897

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Literary Devices


Irony can be tricky. Irony puts tremendous responsibility on the reader. It juxtaposes multiple incongruous realities in the hopes that the reader will perceive what often the characters themselves do not or refuse to. The difference between what the characters perceive and what the reader understands creates irony.

Although the story is constructed on Conrad’s stinging critique of European colonialism, that criticism escapes both Belgians within the narrative, and it is up to the reader to note the significant differences between what the Belgians profess and the reality of their outpost life. Neither Belgian moves toward the sort of epiphany that would indicate they have come to terms with the hypocrisy of the European occupation of central Africa. Despite their privileged position as emissaries of Western civilization, they are lazy, incompetent, unfocused, and entirely self-involved, none of which they actually understand about themselves. They see themselves as the white men able to direct the operations of the outpost when in actuality the entire outpost is under the de facto guidance of Makola, who, despite his fawning nature with the white men, loathes them and sees them as comically inferior.