Victory By Joseph Conrad Summary and Analysis Part 4: Chapter 5

Summary

Lena wakens and finds herself alone. She rises quickly and meets Heyst returning from the strangers' quarters. She can smile at him and her glance is clear. He tells her that Wang has left and relates how Wang seemed trying to warn him of some danger — danger to her. He shows how Wang raised two fingers and pointed to the curtain.

Lena is almost paralyzed with horror but conceals it. While Heyst goes on to relate his conversation with Jones and Ricardo, she is thinking that if it were possible, she would like to lock him up — put him out of circulation until she has settled this business and delivered him.

Heyst reports Jones as saying, "I am he who is . . ." He can't comprehend what the man means. Jones also says that he has been "coming and going up and down the earth." Heyst says he has heard that story before, and Jones confesses that he is no blacker nor less determined than the "gentleman" referred to (Satan; see Job 2:1-2).

Heyst tells Lena he thinks Jones had a revolver under the cotton sheet that covered him just now. He asks Lena if she is sure no one has seen her. She says she has not shown herself at all but reminds him that someday people will have to see her.

He continues his story of how he went, while she slept, to tell the strangers that Wang is on his own with a six-shooter, and that he, Heyst, will no longer be responsible for anything that may happen. Ricardo asks if he has missed anything, and Heyst admits that he has. Ricardo, thinking of the "swag," suggests that they all go out and kill the "Chink." When Heyst refuses, the men counter with a proposal that they send their servant, Pedro, over to cook for Heyst. Ricardo will eat with him, and they will send Mr. Jones' meal over to him at the counting house.

While Heyst hates the idea, he has no way to refuse. He tells Lena that Pedro has the key to the storeroom and is even now making a fire to prepare dinner. Heyst shows Lena, for what he thinks is the first time, Jones and Ricardo walking side by side in the open — "evil intelligence and instinctive savagery, hand in hand."

Heyst decides to go after Wang and beg sanctuary of him. When they walk past the astonished Pedro, he runs to tell his masters that there is a woman in that house.

Analysis

The noose tightens around Axel Heyst's neck (remember these villains got Schomberg's keys, too). Lena is deep in the duplicity she feels is necessary to defend her lover. She senses his innate helplessness before this combination of organized evil. Even though forced to hand his store room key over to Ricardo, he feels only disgust. The reactions of a normal man are missing. He is neither angry nor aroused. His life-long habit of detachment has robbed him of natural emotions. He has refined them away.

Mr. Jones' allusion to the devil suggests that he may well have been a demon incarnate, a device of Conrad's to make his villain more deadly than life.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

How did Lena die?




Quiz