Amy Foster• A generalized comment on the lonely, uncomprehended, absurd human destiny, in which the castaway protagonist plays the role of an Everyman (Albert Guerard).
Amy Foster• The central event of the narrative, which occurs off-camera – the wreck of a German ship carrying Central European immigrants to America – stands as a metaphor for geographical, cultural, and linguistic displacement, for the supreme disaster of loneliness and despair.
Significant Points• The American Dream• Trauma• Otherness• Science• Narrative Techniques• Silence
Trauma• Literary critics say that trauma must be viewed as a cultural trope AND a clinical concept.• In Amy Foster, Conrad is aware of this psycho-cultural dimension of trauma, even if Yanko, his fictional victim, is not.
Otherness• constitutes Conrad’s study of foreignness in English culture, an exposé of the insular nature of Great Britain• Yanko is evil because he is Other, alien, different, strange, unclean, and unfamiliar• Portrayal of Yanko being the Other depicts the villager as the real barbarians of the story
Science• Exploratory in intent, each of his novels is a reapplication of scientific theory to the real world rendered in the novel. In this way, Conrad works towards a scientific understanding of the world.
Narrative Techniques• Man as a story-telling animal (Alasdair MacIntyre)• We all construe our sense of identity in terms of our role in the narrative we are part of.• Presents the world of a universal observer,… representing the immediate epistemological experience, so the reader almost becomes the one experiencing the phenomena, just as the characters do (John Peters).
Narrative Techniques• The narration of Amy Foster is calculated to shock his English reading public into a recognition of the limitations of their social codes and of their insularity
Silence• The silence of Amy Foster is a very crucial component of the narrative. It is through her silence that we must define who she really is, rather than her speech.• Her silence leads to the narrator’s objectification of her. This objectification reinforces the ‘authority’ of the narrator to define her.