Study Help Essay Questions


1. What motivation does Conrad give for Heyst's withdrawal from society and his basic distrust of life?

2. How do the themes and plot of Victory show that Conrad was affected by happenings in the world about him?

3. How does Heyst's attitude toward Morrison reveal his detachment from life? His relationship with Lena? With Wang? With Davidson? With the villains?

4. What motivates Conrad's dislike for the German people? Which characters in Victory illustrate this prejudice?

5. What does each of the four parts of Victory contribute to the whole?

6. What is Victory's principal theme? Other related themes?

7. Are there indications that Victory's themes stem from Conrad's own "life stuff"?

8. When Heyst helps Morrison, what emotion moves him? Is it the same emotion which causes his rescue of Lena? How does this emotion tie in with Heyst's father's philosophy?

9. Some critics refer to Heyst as a "hollow'' man. What do they mean?

10. Ricardo thinks that Schomberg is a "tame" man. Is Heyst a "tame" man too?

11. Why does Heyst choose the name Lena for the girl he rescues? Which of her two names fits the girl best?

12. How does Conrad show that Schomberg knows what he is doing when he sends the villains to Samburan and feels guilty about his action?

13. How does the reader know that Lena deeply feels the desolation and loneliness of Samburan?

14. What is meant by "suggestion"? Give examples of Conrad's use of this device.

15. What are some of the unanswered questions Conrad leaves as a challenge to his readers?

16. Why does Conrad enter the minds of all major characters in Victory excepting Mr. Jones?

17. Why does Heyst so deeply resent Schomberg's malicious gossip?

18. What contrasts does Conrad's technique of "pairing" accentuate? Which characters are "paired"?

19. What does the portrait of Heyst's father symbolize?

20. On his father's advice, Heyst cultivates that "form of contempt called pity." How does this emotion affect his actions?

21. What does the volcano symbolize? The clouds? The storm? The sea? The spears in the barrier of branches? Ricardo's dagger?

22. What significance does the problem of Victory have on a universal level? On an individual level?

23. What does the scene on the forest path in Chapters Three, Four and Five of Part 3 reveal about Heyst's real feeling toward Lena and her understanding of his character?

24. Trace Lena's change of character.

25. Does Heyst's character change?

26. What are the key values of Victory? What does the book teach about guilt complexes, pity, love, and hate? What does it teach about isolationism and mistrust?

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