Victory By Joseph Conrad Summary and Analysis Part 4: Chapter 8

Summary

Heyst and Lena go to Wang's hut and find it newly deserted. They push on through the forest to the other side of the island where the path ends in a barricade of felled trees. The face of the obstruction is piled with fresh-cut branches, and through them several spear blades protrude. Lena is terrified, but Heyst goes forward alone.

Lena watches the spear blades disappear. Yellow hands part the leaves and Wang's face appears. In one hand he holds Heyst's revolver. The two men talk for a moment. Then Wang's head disappears and the spear blades come gliding through again. Heyst returns to Lena and tells her that he is unsuccessful.

Wang will not receive her. Lena is appalled to learn that Heyst intended to place her in the Alfuro village. She declares that she will never consent to such an arrangement.

Heyst is undone. Disarmed by his own peaceful and withdrawn nature as well as by loss of his revolver, he is powerless to put up any kind of defense. Even were the desperadoes fully in his power, he cannot murder them. He has neither strength nor persuasion. He thinks of the old mine shaft, riddled with ants and dangerous. He thinks of the strangers' boat, but escaping in it would only be a slower form of death without oars or provisions. He recalls that Davidson cannot be expected to pass the island for another three weeks.

Lena looks around her into the shadow of the forest and feels a "dumb menacing hostility" in the stillness. She feels the very nearness of death breathing on both of them. She shakes off this weakness and resolves to rise above her own sordid origins and to find some way of revealing her love for Heyst and winning his love for herself.

Now their bungalow appears "bathed in sinister light."

"Oh look there!" Lena exclaims.

Beyond the headland of Diamond Bay lying black in a purple sea, great masses of cloud stood piled up and bathed in a mist of blood. A crimson crack like an open wound zigzagged between them, with a piece of dark red sun showing at the bottom.

Heyst says a thunderstorm is in the making. Lena remarks that it is not a good omen or a sign of mercy.

Analysis

As the tragic climax draws near, Conrad sets the mood with symbolic colors and the threat of the storm. Heyst appears to be completely discouraged. He has led the way up the ridge. Lena leads him home. The strength of defense passes into Lena's capable hands.

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