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Lord Jim
Joseph Conrad




_____ 1. Marlow draws some small consolation from his visit with the chief engineer (Chapter Five) because the man's hallucinations of fanged toads

    A. make a fascinating after-dinner story
    B. suggest he hasn't entirely gotten away with violating the fixed standard of conduct
    C. show how much worse off Jim could be than he is already
_____ 2. The "yellow cur" episode (Chapter Six), when Jim first speaks to Marlow, reveals that
    A. Jim's belligerence is only a front
    B. Jim doesn't understand the severity of his crime
    C. Jim is more wounded by the Patna scandal than he's let on
_____ 3. Jim stays to face the Patna inquiry because he thinks
    A. it's his only chance of being exonerated
    B. it would be cowardly to run away
    C. he owes it to the 800 pilgrims
_____ 4. The French lieutenant with whom Marlow speaks in Sydney (Chapters Twelve and Thirteen)
    I. believes that all men are born cowards
    II. understand's Jim's fear, but can't forgive his dishonor
    III. declares that Jim has dishonored all sailors by his cowardice
    A. I and II only
    B. II and III only
    C. I and III only
_____ 5. Jim's refusal, once the Patna inquiry is over, to stay at a job after he's been recognized shows that he is
    A. thoroughly impractical
    B. looking for any excuse to get out of such demeaning work
    C. aware that no one will tolerate his presence once they know who he is
_____ 6. Stein advises, "In the destructive element immerse" (Chapter Twenty), meaning that you should
    A. follow your dreams
    B. overcome whatever obstacle you find most difficult
    C. keep your integrity even when you're surrounded with cowards and villains
_____ 7. Stein decides to help Jim because
    A. Stein recognizes that Jim is a romantic like himself
    B. Stein is eager to do a favor for his old friend Marlow
    C. Jim is the countryman of his old patron, Alexander M'Neil
_____ 8. The moon rising over Patusan is
    A. a positive symbol suggesting rebirth, Jim's "second chance"
    B. a negative symbol connoting the illusory quality of Jim's life there
    C. both positive and negative
_____ 9. Jewel's conversation with Marlow (Chapter Thirty-three) reveals that she's uneasy about Jim because she
    I. senses that his guilt over the Patna is stronger than his love for her
    II. knows that Cornelius and the rajah want to kill him
    III. fears being abandoned as her father abandoned her mother
    A. I and II only
    B. II and III only
    C. I and III only
_____ 10. Jim goes to confront Doramin at the end because
    A. is certain the old man will forgive him
    B. needs to prove that he's not afraid of death
    C. is guided by his father's letter

11. Do Jim's accomplishments in Patusan make up for his behavior aboard the Patna?

12. Account for Brierly's suicide.

13. Consider Jim's romanticism in the light of Stein's comment that it is "very bad... Very good, too" (Chapter Twenty).


_____ 1. Jim's case disturbs Big Brierly because

    I. Brierly feels Jim is being humiliated when it's really the captain who should be on trial
    II. Brierly thinks it reflects badly on the dignity of all sailing men
    III. it makes Brierly wonder whether he could pass the kind of moral test Jim failed
    A. I and II only
    B. II and III only
    C. I and III only
_____ 2. Jim is unable to take prompt action during the Patna crisis because
    A. the bulkhead would almost certainly break if he tried to reinforce it
    B. the other officers won't come to his assistance
    C. his vivid imagination leads him to picture a panic, and he freezes
_____ 3. Chester and Robinson (Chapter Fourteen) contrast with Jim in that they
    I. wouldn't be bothered by scandal and dishonor
    II. see things exactly as they are, while Jim is the victim of illusions and hallucinations
    III. are cynics, and he's an idealist
    A. I and II only
    B. I and III only
    C. II and III only
_____ 4. Stein's butterflies and beetles symbolize two types of people:
    A. dreamers and cynics
    B. merrymakers and hard workers
    C. aristocrats and peasants
_____ 5. When Stein says, "Man is amazing, but he is not a masterpiece" (Chapter Twenty), he means that human beings can't
    A. compare with butterflies in physical beauty
    B. understand the perfection that butterflies represent
    C. attain the kind of perfection he ascribes to butterflies
_____ 6. Even though the Rajah Allang hates Jim, he can't afford to poison him because
    A. Jim protects him from the vengeance of Doramin's followers
    B. he thinks Jim is a white god and fears his revenge
    C. if Jim dies, Stein will cut off trade with the rajah
_____ 7. Marlow particularly admires Dain Waris'
    A. hospitality
    B. respect for the sultan
    C. European mind
_____ 8. Conrad has Marlow locate and interview the dying Brown because
    A. he needs to show Brown in his death agonies in order to convey his vision of a world in which justice is finally rendered
    B. Brown has information about the events leading up to Jim's death that Marlow needs to hear in order to finish his narration
    C. Brown has to narrate the events that Jim is too inarticulate to explain fully
_____ 9. In their confrontation (Chapters Forty-one and Forty-two), Brown gets the better of Jim by convincing Jim
    A. that he and his men came only to beg
    B. of their common guilt
    C. that his men will give up their weapons and go quietly if Jim will guide them out
_____ 10. Jewel refuses to forgive Jim because
    A. she believes he deserted her as her father deserted her mother
    B. he never told her the truth about the Patna incident
    C. he let Brown and his men leave without a fight

11. Show how Jim's behavior on the training ship (Chapter One) foreshadows his later behavior on the Patna.

12. What is it about Jim that draws Marlow to him?

13. Describe the way Conrad fractures traditional chronology.


  1. B
  2. C
  3. B
  4. A
  5. A
  6. A
  7. C
  8. C
  9. C
  10. B

11. Since Conrad provides no clear answer to this question, you'll have to make up your own mind as to whether Jim redeems or, at least, rehabilitates himself in Patusan.

If you take a negative view, you can point to Jim's ultimate failure as a leader. As aboard the Patna, lives entrusted to him are endangered through a serious error in judgment. (The second time around, in fact, is worse, in that innocent people actually die.) The similarity of the names "Patna" and "Patusan" suggests that Conrad regarded the later episode as something like a repeat of the earlier one. You can also point out Jim's inability to put the Patna behind him. Neither he nor Marlow can stop remembering it; it even poisons his romance with Jewel. Jim's failure to take action against the invaders recalls the way he freezes aboard the Patna. Finally, you can cite Jim's deep sense of shared guilt with Brown as evidence that he still regards himself, on some level, as a criminal.

But you can also make a strong argument that Jim becomes a better man in Patusan. If Jim flees the Patna because his nerve fails in the face of death, in Patusan he proves he can face death bravely. He risks his life in the assault on Sherif Ali; he regularly drinks the rajah's potentially poisoned coffee; and he goes to face Doramin at the end. Moreover, if the younger Jim dreams of being a hero but acts like a coward, the Jim of Patusan fulfills his deepest heroic ambitions. And his heroics do more than bolster his own position: they bring peace to the community and curb the tyranny of the Rajah Allang. Finally, while it's true that Jim's decision to release Brown backfires, there are excellent reasons to defend that decision. It's made with the safety of the community in mind: a battle would probably end in more deaths than the massacre. It isn't necessarily a fault- in fact, it's a sign of fundamental innocence- that Jim doesn't expect Brown to sneak up and murder men in cold blood.

12. Brierly's suicide seems mysterious at first, in light of his success and self-esteem, but some of the reasons emerge during his conversation with Marlow. Because he's so intent on public opinion, he thinks the Patna scandal diminishes the dignity of all sailing men. In fact, it seems that he regards himself so highly just because everybody else does. (He's received numerous honors.) Thus, a lessening of esteem toward seamen would mean a lessening of esteem toward Brierly- an idea that shakes his confidence. Brierly would suffer deeply if he had to face the kind of public censure that Jim does. Since Brierly, unlike Jim, has so little built-in self-respect, he starts to wonder how he would have behaved in Jim's shoes. After all, few sailing men are ever tested the way Jim was. Self-doubt begins, and since he has no built-in defenses (like belief in himself), it completely takes over. Brierly kills himself, finally, out of self-doubt- out of fear of his own cowardice.

13. Jim's romanticism- his tendency to set his goals in unreachable ideals (like storybook heroism)- is very bad, as Stein observes, because the distance between his dreams and his achievements is a constant source of pain and disappointment. He wants to be "so fine as he can never be" (Stein's words), and he's depressed when he fails. This problem is especially apparent in the first half of the novel: Jim keeps dreaming of heroic action, and acting- aboard the training ship, aboard the Patna- in unheroic ways. But being a romantic dreamer can also be "very good." Jim's stubborn belief in his ideals keeps him from growing disillusioned, like Marlow, or- worse- cynical, like Chester and Brown. He may not be able to reach his distant goal, but setting them high makes him reach that much farther (and attain that much more) than if he hadn't dreamt at all. None of the men in Patusan, for example, has the daring to come up with a scheme like Jim's plan for defeating Sherif Ali. Jim's big dreams are the foundation of his amazing success in Patusan.


  1. B
  2. C
  3. B
  4. A
  5. C
  6. A
  7. C
  8. B
  9. B
  10. A

11. Jim spends much of his time on the training ship daydreaming about the amazing hero he'll be someday. One day he's called to help with a rescue during a storm. Confronted with a real rather than a fantasy crisis, he freezes, while the other boys rush to board the rescue cutter and row away without him. Jim's vivid imagination keeps him from being able to act: the whole fury of the gale seems directed at him personally. But Jim learns nothing from his failure to act. Instead of admitting his fear (so that he could learn to deal with it), he decides that the rescue mission was child's-play, beneath him.

Later, faced with disaster on the Patna, Jim freezes again. Once again, he's the victim of his own overly vivid imagination, envisioning a scene of terror if the ship starts to go down and the 800 pilgrims wake and panic. Instead of efficiently taking what precautions are possible (for example, reinforcing the rusty bulkhead that's the only thing keeping the ship afloat), Jim stands stunned, as he had on the training ship. Faced with the terrible prospect his imagination creates, he finally abandons the ship with the other white officers- once again missing an opportunity to prove himself the hero he dreams of being.

12. At first Marlow is repelled by Jim's sullen insolence, his apparent indifference to the enormity of his offense in deserting the Patna. But with the "yellow-cur" episode (Chapter Five), in which Jim unintentionally shows the depth of his humiliation, Marlow's opinion starts to change. He admires the stiff-upper-lip control with which Jim is facing the scandal. As Marlow talks to Brierly, who wants Jim to run away from the inquiry, he perceives how courageous Jim is being to remain and face his accusers. For Marlow, Jim is "one of us"- a phrase that refers on one level to white, educated British mariners, but on a deeper level to persons who adhere to a certain fixed standard of conduct. Indeed, Jim has remained to face the court of inquiry precisely because running away would go counter to his firmly- held principles of honor. Marlow also admires Jim's stubborn idealism, though he occasionally becomes annoyed with his impracticality (for example, in refusing to stay at a job once he's been recognized). And he sees in Jim's ideals and illusions an image of his own lost illusions- lost because growing up is a disillusioning process. By implication (it's never stated outright), Marlow has a certain fatherly feeling for Jim- which isn't surprising, since he is twenty years Jim's senior.

13. Most novelists who wrote before Conrad told their stories in a straight time line, starting at the beginning and finishing at the end, with few jumps back and forth in time. (An occasional flashback to explain something was about as far as they went in breaking up the time structure.) Lord Jim, in contrast, is told with frequent jumps backward and forward in time- from Marlow narrating Jim's story, to Marlow listening to Jim at his hotel, to Jim aboard the Patna, back to Marlow and Jim, and then, perhaps, to Marlow's encounter with another character, such as the French lieutenant, who has information pertaining to Jim's case.

Your best strategy for answering this question is to pick out a section of a few chapters and simply analyze the time shifts. The time sequence is slightly more broken up in the first half of the novel, but Conrad uses time shifts throughout, and there are few sections of two or three chapters that don't include significant jumps backward or forward.

You should also keep in mind the extent to which Conrad's method remains traditional. Despite all the jumps back and forth, the overall time line follows Jim's life in the conventional way: from his early days (Chapter One) to his death (Chapter Forty-five).

[Lord Jim Contents]


  • JIM
    1. What is your own verdict of Jim? Do you think he ever makes up for abandoning the Patna?
    2. List several examples of Jim's childish or immature qualities. How do they relate to his overall character? (Some childish traits- innocence, for example- aren't necessarily bad.)
    3. In what subtle ways does Jim present the facts about what happened aboard the Patna in a manner that's advantageous to his case?
    1. Examine Marlow as a character, paying special attention to (a) the way others are constantly drawn to tell him their stories; (b) his deep friendship for Jim; (c) his embarrassment about expressing emotion or accepting thanks.
    2. Do you think Marlow is an entirely reliable narrator? Consider (a) whether you can safely accept all his judgments at face value, and (b) whether you think he always speaks for Conrad.
    3. What is the meaning of the chief engineer's hallucinations (Chapter Five)?
    4. Compare Big Brierly's sudden, unexpected suicide to those of Richard Corey, in Edward Arlington Robinson's poem of the same name, and Seymour Glass, in J. D. Salinger's short story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish."
    5. Consider some or all of the villains in the novel (the Patna officers, Chester and Robinson, the rajah and Kassim, Cornelius, Brown). What do they suggest about Conrad's view of human nature.
    6. Do you think the Malay characters are less fully developed than the characters in the first half of the novel? Or are they fully developed, but in a different way? Explain.
    1. What does Marlow mean by the "fixed standard of conduct"? Explain its relevance to the novel.
    2. Locate several of the numerous references to fog or mist. How does Conrad use them to develop Marlow's view of Jim? of moral problems?
    3. "A clean slate, did he say? As if the initial word of each our destiny were not graven in imperishable characters upon the face of a rock!" Are Marlow's fatalistic words at the end of Chapter Seventeen a fair summation of what happens in the novel, or are they misleading?
    4. Write an essay carefully analyzing Stein's pronouncements about romanticism and the "destructive element" (Chapter Twenty). How do they explain Jim's behavior, both aboard the Patna and in Patusan?
    5. Write about the symbolism of Stein's collection of butterflies and beetles, making reference to specific characters who represent both types.
    1. Henry James once described Conrad as "a votary of the way to do a thing that shall make it undergo most doing." Relate this description to Conrad's complicated technique in Lord Jim.
    2. Focusing on a section of three to five chapters, analyze in detail Conrad's use of fractured or fragmented chronology. What is the effect of all the time shifts? Could Conrad have simplified his method?
    3. Marlow tells several stories that are only loosely related to Jim's case, if at all. What are the purposes of these digressions? Pay particular attention to the chief engineer (Chapter Five), Big Brierly (Chapter Six), and little Bob Stanton (Chapter Thirteen).

[Lord Jim Contents]


Proverbial Latin saying: may there be no ill omens.

British schoolboy slang for "damn," originally a euphemism for "bloody."

Seed of the betel palm, chewed by many Southeast Asians.

Cradle on which a ship's boat rests on deck.

Kind of two-masted sailing ship.

Malay people from the island of Celebes and nearby islands.

Upright partition separating one part of a ship from another.

Malay village or hamlet.

Bugis title of respect.

One of the small projecting cranes used for raising and lowering a ship's boats.

Strong, durable cotton fabric.

Part of a ship below the deck and toward the front.

Kind of horse-drawn cab.

Driver of a gharry.

Sea bird manure, used as fertilizer.

Upper edge of a boat's side.

Cable or rope used to moor or tow a ship.

Ship's steering mechanism.

Malay dagger.

East Indian sailor.

Longest boat carried on a sailing ship.

Port on the Malay Peninsula, about 125 miles north of Singapore.

Bugis merchant class, or a member of that class.

Person with marine expertise, appointed to assist a judge.

Malay chief.

Kind of Indian fan, consisting of a large palm leaf or canvas strip stretched over a frame suspended from the ceiling, and operated by a servant.

Kind of ship with two or more masts.

Officer of an East Indian ship's crew.

Muslim title indicating descent from Muhammad.

Supplier of provisions and supplies to ships.

Any of the poles on a ship for supporting or extending the sails.

Plank extending across a boat and used as a seat.

Anglo-Indian word for lunch.

Bar or lever used to turn a boat's rudder.

Malay title of respect (see the Note to Chapter One).

Malay word meaning "my lord."



Stays very still.






Isn't that so?


Good, fine.

You see.

"So I finally hold it in my hands, / and call it, in a certain sense, mine" (from Goethe's play Torquato Tasso, Act I, Scene iii).

Cursed, damned.

How? What? God in heaven!

THE STORY, continued

ECC [Lord Jim Contents] []

© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
Further distribution without the written consent of, Inc. is prohibited.

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