Victory By Joseph Conrad Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter 3

Summary

Many persons believe Schomberg's gossip. Others regard it as funny to call Heyst "The Spider" behind his back. Heyst knows nothing of any of his nicknames.

Soon everyone has more important matters to discuss. Morrison makes Heyst manager on the spot of the newly organized Tropical Belt Coal Company with offices in London and Amsterdam. Heyst's "great stride forward" has begun.

Morrison takes leave of his brig and goes home to England to push the coal company, but he contracts a fatal illness. Heyst is shocked at his partner's death and disappears for a time. When he reappears, he shows a guarded attitude, almost as though he expects to be reproached for Morrison's death although it could not possibly be his fault.

The hotelkeeper, Schomberg, however, months after the disaster, makes up a piece of sinister gossip. He declares that Heyst squeezed Morrison like a lemon and then sent him home to die. Meanwhile, Heyst's appointment as manager of the T.B.C. Company is confirmed and he chooses Samburan, or Round Island, for the central station. Engineers come out, coolies are imported, bungalows are erected on Samburan, and some coal is mined. There is talk of large contracts and a large fleet of steamers. Never has Heyst been so much talked about. People remember that he is of noble birth — -a Swedish baron. And now they begin to regard Heyst as "the enemy" because everyone fears the new coal company and what it may do to their own trade.

Schomberg alone hoots at the idea and prophesies doom for them. T.B.C. Company and its manager. He is right. The company folds and Heyst disappears. Almost everyone forgets the Swede, but not Schomberg. Hatred seems stronger than casual friendship, and Schomberg hates Heyst with all the strength of a blind fool.

Then Schomberg gets news of Heyst. He is still on Samburan. He has dismissed all company employees and lives there alone. Captain Davidson, coming by from the west, has seen Heyst on the wharf at Samburan, has put off in a small boat, and has talked with him. Schomberg gloats over his notion that Heyst can't possibly have anything decent to eat on the deserted island of Samburan.

Analysis

This chapter develops Schomberg's character more fully, showing such motivation as exists for his enduring hatred of Heyst.

Conrad attributes Schomberg's stupidity, his cowardice, his unreasoning hatred to the fact of his being German: "Observe the Teutonic sense of proportion and nice forgiving temper."

Conrad wrote Victory between October 1912 and May 1914. It was published during the first months of World War I. Conrad never had any use for the Germans. His dislike stemmed from his own Polish ancestry but was fortified and augmented by sympathy with his adopted country — England. These prejudices appear in other places throughout the book.

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