In these tales, people are put under heavy mental stress by fatal accidents, hostile environments or insoluble doubts. Their reactions become uncontrollable. The short stories give a good picture of Conrad's themes, story building with surprising outcomes and view on mankind: `Morality is not a method of happiness'.
In `Karain: a Memory', a Malay war-chief makes an odyssey trying to kill a woman who left her native village with a white man. He becomes haunted by the spirit of his dead brother. In `The Lagoon', the adduction of a woman turns into a fatal accident. `There is no light and no peace in the world; but there is death - death for many. I left him in the midst of the enemies; but I am going back.' In `An outpost of Progress', two lonely `progressive' colonialists become haunted by their hostile environment; `a suggestion of things vague, uncontrollable, and repulsive, whose discomposing intrusion tries the civilized nerves.' In `The Return', a marriage turns sour on the impossible `certitude of love and faith'. In `The Idiots', a less successful offspring puts a marriage under extreme pressure.
These sometimes furiously written stories with their high evocative power of landscapes, feelings and conflicts should not be missed.