Nostromo: Novel by Joseph Conrad - Summary & Analysis

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Summary

      Nostromo novel by Joseph Conrad, published in 1904. A turbulent political history is part of the background of the coastal Province of Sulaco, the wealthiest region of the South American republic of Constaguana. Along with San Tome, the silver mine, the Englishman Charles Gould has inherited the instability of a civil war between the legal government of Ribiera and the populist party of his military chief, Monetro. In order to prevent the confiscation of silver by the rebels, Gould is persuaded to entrust it to Martin Decoud, a journalist with ambiguous commitments to the Ribiera government. Decoud is joined by the Italian Nostromo four man, the Capataz de Cargodores, a local hero, in smuggling the silver out into the gulf. In the darkness, their loaded lighter is hit and damaged by a rebel troopship, forced to run aground on nearby islands, the Isabels, they conceal the silver and Nostromo returns to Sulaco.

      Shocked into awareness by their near disaster, Nostromo considers how far he has been exploited by his allies, who are aware of his appetite for adventure and glory. Decoud's dilemma is more extreme: his usual skepticism turns to near-madness, and he drowns himself, weighted with silver. At this point, Nostromo is persuaded to further, desperate heroism by another bearer of disillusionment: Dr. Monygham, who was tortured under the previous political regime, and who is in love with Charles Gould's wife, the humane and wise Emilia. Owing to Nostromo's actions in summoning loyal forces, Sulaco and the Goulds are saved from the violence of the rebels.

      The ensuing peace proves to be superficial for most characters. Nostromo, who is betrothed to Linda, the daughter of Giorgio Viola, fosters the belief that the silver has been sunk. But he makes clandestine visits to the Isabels, where Giorgio is appointed lighthouse keeper; here, he steals back portions of the silver and finds himself in love with Giselle, the sister of his betrothed. When he is mistaken for an intruder and shot by Giorgio, the secret of the silver is lost for ever.

Analysis

      The construction of Nostromo is topsy-turvy; it begins from middle and ends at the start. This novel deals with a story of inunense interest. Mystery, realism and romance are the chief features of the novel. Each and every character is very well drawn. It can not be called a masterpiece because of Nostromo's puppet like treatment in the development of another tale. The greatest achievements are in the minor personages.

      Conrad possesses a great imaginative force and profound sense of drama and logic of events. His style is often careless but has moments of excellent inspiration. Conrad, on seeing his characters with tremendous clarity; their intense hatred and love, does not know where to end and start the story. It seems that all the characters crowd upon him, demanding that each must be drawn realistically with the same patience.

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