This profoundly sad realization came from Arsat in Joseph Conrad’s short story The Lagoon. He told the impulsive words to the white man, after the death of his beloved woman Diamelen. Arsat’s hope for life and conquest over death by means of his love had proved illusory, and he admitted that to the white man.
Arsat had a deep craving for a life of love in peace and security. In his lust for life and love, Arsat did not respond to his brother’s dying call. He did not rush to his brother’s aid against the enemy because of his intense passion for his beloved woman. He had the expectation of a life of love with her, far from the fear of death. He cherished fondly the dream of life and love that would conquer mortality and transience. Unfortunately, his hope turned out to be a mere illusion. He could not live long in love. Diamelen died and her death exposed the utter vanity of his desire and dream. He realized the sordid fact that death could be the only truth in a world, where human aspirations for love and peace were all unsubstantial.
The tragedy of Arsat’s life is found echoed in these words. It is a deep tragedy of his frustrated hope and vision of life. This has, however, a universal significance, and is symbolically suggestive of the intense human passion for life that is out of the bound of death and its sad negation.