I'm first time reading a novel by Joseph Conrad; I was inspired and revered him since I saw Apocalypse Now. But as Mr.Joseph is regarded as a very skillful, detailful and prolific writer so I must admit that my knowledge is a little low to fully understand him, therefore confusion arises and I have to come here for clearing up a doubt.
In the first chapter of An Outcast of the Islands, Willems (the novel's main character) is described as very powerful and somewhat as sophomaniac. To quote from the book:
[...] he kept them [the Da Souza tribe] singing his praises in the midst of their laziness, of their dirt, of their immense and hopeless squalor: he was greatly delighted.
They [the Da Souza tribe] lived now by the grace of his will. This was power. Willems loved it.
And he depicts himself as intelligent:
Willems knew all about himself. On the day when, with many misgivings, he ran away from a Dutch East-Indiaman in Samarang roads, he had commenced that study of himself, of his own ways, of his own abilities, of those fate-compelling qualities of which led him toward that lucrative position which he now filled.
So, these remarks suggest that Willems was very powerful and law himself, and more importantly he himself made him. But a little later in the same chapter, when Willems is going home, the narrator writes,
Leaning against one of the brick pillars, Mr. Vinck, the cashier of Hudig & Co., smoked the last cheroot of the evening. Amongst the shadows of the trimmed bushes Mrs. Vinck crunched slowly, with measured steps, the gravel of the circular path before the house. "There's Willems going home on foot- and drunk I fancy," said Mr. Vinck over his shoulder. "I saw him jump and wave his hat".
It's been mentioned in the first chapter that Willems is a clerk for Hudig & co., and at the same time his prowess is talked about. The confusion is that in my society and as far as I have seen, clerks are the ones who give receipts for something, to be a bit direct: they are employees of relatively low power. So, given that Willems is the head of the whole Da Souza tribe and everyone lives by his grace, how come Mr. Vink makes such remarks on him? And how could he be just a clerk of a company when he got such powers (whole army of that tribe) which hardly anyone in that company have?
Kindly explain me the situation of Willems as can be deduced from the first and second chapter of An Outcast of the Islands.
UPDATE: In the third chapter it is written that
He had married her [Joanna] to please Hudig, and the greatness of his sacrifice ought to have made her happy without any further exertion on his part.
I’m lost even more here as to who Hudig was and how marrying Joanna would have pleased him? Hudig & co. can be imagined as a company which transports its products over the whole Europe and these Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia. I’m unable to understand how the Da Souza tribe is related to Hudig & co.