57 pages 1 hour read

Joseph Conrad

An Outpost Of Progress

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1897

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Discussion/Analysis Prompt

Conrad employs irony to draw the reader’s attention to issues and ideas that the characters, particularly Kayerts and Carlier, do not grasp. How does Conrad use irony to highlight the theme of The Hypocrisy of Western Colonialism?

Teaching Suggestion: Encourage students to consider the irony of the characters Kayerts and Carlier, who view themselves as bastions of European civility yet engage in slave trading before devolving into bickering and murder. What do the readers understand about these characters that the characters do not understand about themselves? The “Colonialism” link below provides insight into the European mindset and rationale for colonization.

  • Colonialism” from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Section 2: “Natural Law and the Conquest of the Americas” focuses on the European idea of bringing “salvation” to indigenous people)
  • This TED-Ed YouTube video reviews dramatic irony, and this TED-Ed YouTube video reviews situational irony.

Differentiation Suggestion: Some students, including those with executive processing challenges, may benefit from a graphic organizer to generate and sort insights prior to this discussion. You may consider a table such as the one below:




How they view themselves:

Actions that contradict their self-perception:

How this contradiction reveals The Hypocrisy of Western Civilization: