Originally posted by Great Big Stees
When does the truth NEED to be told?
The climax of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness
. Marlowe conceals Kurtz's last words from his bereaved fiancee.
"Forgive me. I--I--have mourned so long in silence--in silence. . . . You were with him--to the last? I think of his loneliness. Nobody near to understand him as I would have understood. Perhaps no one to hear. . . ."
"To the very end," I said, shakily. "I heard his very last words. . . ." I stopped in a fright.
"Repeat them," she said in a heart-broken tone. "I want--I want--something--something--to--to live with."
I was on the point of crying at her, "Don't you hear them?" The dusk was repeating them in a persistent whisper all around us, in a whisper that seemed to swell menacingly like the first whisper of a rising wind. "The horror! The horror!"
"His last word--to live with," she murmured. "Don't you understand I loved him--I loved him--I loved him!"
I pulled myself together and spoke slowly.
"The last word he pronounced was--your name."
I heard a light sigh, and then my heart stood still, stopped dead short by an exulting and terrible cry, by the cry of inconceivable triumph and of unspeakable pain. "I knew it--I was sure!" . . . She knew. She was sure. I heard her weeping; she had hidden her face in her hands. It seemed to me that the house would collapse before I could escape, that the heavens would fall upon my head. But nothing happened. The heavens do not fall for such a trifle. Would they have fallen, I wonder, if I had rendered Kurtz that justice which was his due? Hadn't he said he wanted only justice? But I couldn't. I could not tell her. It would have been too dark--too dark altogether. . . .