The word appears 3 times.
The novel deals with a man who believes he is a coward because of one act of cowardice during a crisis on a ship. He abandons his life and to live among native peoples in the south seas. He comes to respect the people he lives with, and they him. He is not a racist, but many of those around him are - especially during a ship board crisis.
As in his novel Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses race to show humanity; or the lack of humanity between men. The 3 instances occur in 2 places:
"'These things happen only once to a man and... Ah! well! When I got on the bridge at last the beggars were getting one of the boats off the chocks. A boat! I was running up the ladder when a heavy blow fell on my shoulder, just missing my head. It didn't stop me, and the chief engineer- they had got him out of his bunk by then- raised the boat-stretcher again. Somehow I had no mind to be surprised at anything. All this seemed natural- and awful- and awful. I dodged that miserable maniac, lifted him off the deck as though he had been a little child, and he started whispering in my arms: "Don't! don't! I thought you were one of them niggers." I flung him away, he skidded along the bridge and knocked the legs from under the little chap- the second. The skipper, busy about the boat, looked round and came at me head down, growling like a wild beast. I flinched no more than a stone. I was as solid standing there as this,' he tapped lightly with his knuckles the wall beside his chair. 'It was as though I had heard it all, seen it all, gone through it all twenty times already. I wasn't afraid of them. I drew back my fist and he stopped short, muttering-
I was feeling my way in at daylight under short canvas when there comes flying out of the mist right under my forefoot a boat half under water, spray going over the mast-head, two frightened niggers on the bottom boards, a yelling fiend at the tiller. Hey! Hey! Ship ahoy! Ahoy! Captain! Hey! Hey! Egstrom & Blake's man first to speak to you! Hey! Hey! Egstrom & Blake! Hallow! Hey! Whoop! Kick the Niggers - out reefs - a squall on at the time - shoots ahead whooping and yelling to me to make sail and he would give me a lead in - more like a demon than a man. Never saw a boat handled like that in all my life.