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Lord Jim
Joseph Conrad

THE STORY, continued


Marlow describes, in some detail, the grim final day of the inquiry, especially his own distress. Sentence is handed down: The certificates of Jim and the captain (who's long since vanished) are revoked, and they can no longer serve as ships' officers.

NOTE: The punishment of the real-life Jeddah officers was less severe. The captain had his certificate suspended for three years; the first mate never even came to trial.

As Jim walks despondently away, Marlow's accosted by a rough Australian by the name of Chester. Chester prides himself on being able to "see things exactly as they are," which is another way of saying that he's a cynic. He has nothing but contempt for the way Jim takes his punishment to heart. Chester is trying to launch a business venture hauling guano (sea bird manure used as fertilizer) from a remote island, and he wants a man like Jim- ruined but capable, with absolutely no other prospects- to oversee the workers. Marlow is horrified. It's a crackpot scheme: Chester's desolate island has been known to be without rainfall for as much as a year. But what really troubles Marlow is the idea of the sensitive, idealistic Jim trapped at such hellish work, and for such an unscrupulous boss. He refuses to help Chester convince Jim.

Chester's business partner is an ancient sailor named Robinson, pathetically senile now but known in his day by the nickname "Holy-Terror." Robinson, a seal hunter and opium smuggler, was apparently even more of a scoundrel than Chester. On one occasion, when he was shipwrecked, he ate his companions. Three weeks after his rescue, according to Chester, Robinson was completely recovered; and the scandal of his cannibalism didn't bother him at all. The amoral Robinson forms a telling contrast to Jim, who is about to spend several years running from his reputation, unable to bear the mention of the Patna scandal.


In a comic echo of the Chester episode, Marlow now must fend off a businessman "fresh from Madagascar," who wants to involve him in some obscure venture. Marlow finally frees himself and goes in search of Jim. Marlow finds Jim stunned by his misfortune and brings him back to his quarters so that he can at least suffer in privacy. Marlow's description of the lengths to which he goes to make himself unobtrusive is funny, or it would be if Jim weren't so deeply anguished.

Jim is now at low ebb: utter disgrace, no future, nowhere to go. He might as well be dead, Marlow reflects- death would make things easier for Jim, and for Marlow as well. The figures of Chester and Robinson keep flashing into his thoughts. He begins to see that Chester's offer had a certain point. Where else is Jim going to find work? The end result of all this reflection is a dawning sense of responsibility. Of course, Jim has no particular claim on Marlow. But Marlow knows that if he doesn't intercede in some way, Jim's future is practically hopeless. You might compare Marlow's willingness to accept responsibility for the fate of others with Jim's behavior, both earlier on the Patna, and later on Patusan.


Marlow drops the thread of the story and jumps forward, mentioning the trying period when Jim worked for ship chandlers. He also refers, rather mysteriously, to Jim's later success, when he was "loved, trusted, admired" and treated as though he really were a hero. Thinking back to Chapter One, you may remember one of the first things the narrator mentioned about Jim: In the jungle village where he fled after something terrible had happened, he earned the title "Tuan Jim"- Lord Jim.

Marlow also lets drop, in passing, that it was lucky he protected Jim from Chester's offer. Chester and his crew ended up sailing for his guano island and disappearing, without a trace, in a hurricane.

Marlow finds that he still has difficulty making up his mind about Jim. "He was not clear." Part of what disturbs him is "that he made so much of his disgrace while it is the guilt alone that matters." In other words, Jim focuses on saving his ruined reputation. But Marlow believes that what others think of you is far less important than what you know, in your conscience, about yourself. Do you sympathize with Marlow's belief? If so, why? How does it compare with Brierly's beliefs? Jim had made the same argument in Chapters Ten and Twelve, when he insisted that the Patna officers' story was of no consequence to him; what mattered was the truth he had to live with. But from Jim's account of the Patna disaster, Marlow isn't sure that Jim has faced that truth. Jim is too eager to lay the responsibility for his jumping at somebody else's doorstep. Marlow knows he still has romantic illusions about himself. Jim still thinks that, given the right circumstances, he can be a hero. (Marlow's allusions to Jim's heroic future at least hint that Jim may be right.) It's the very fineness of Jim's sensibilities that allows him to keep deluding himself. A "little coarser nature," Marlow reflects, would have had to come to terms with himself and admit that he's no hero. A "still coarser" nature- for example, Holy-Terror Robinson (Chapter Fourteen)- wouldn't care.

These suspicions find support in what Jim, still suffering in Marlow's hotel room, has to say for himself. He's so certain he'll get a second chance that he's apparently learned nothing about himself. In fact, he somehow turns the whole scandal into proof of his spunk: "If this business couldn't knock me over," he tells Marlow, then nothing can. When Marlow comments, "I at least had no illusions," the unstated corollary is that Jim has too many. Does Jim ever learn?

After an awkward exchange in which Marlow remains noncommittal on the topic of Jim's guilt, Jim prepares to leave. At once Marlow realizes that he couldn't forgive himself if he let Jim disappear. There are two reasons for this. One, already noted, is that Marlow feels responsible for Jim: He's the only thing standing between Jim and the Chesters of the world. The other reason may be less apparent because Marlow tends to be reticent about it: He's grown attached to Jim. And he's about to prove his friendship.


A storm rages outside the hotel- a reflection of Jim's turbulent emotions. As Jim gradually calms down in this chapter, so does the storm.

Marlow tries to convince Jim to accept his help. At first Jim, who is still clutching at his pride, resists the proposal, thinking that Marlow is offering to lend him money. But Marlow explains that while Jim has been pacing and brooding, he's been writing a letter to a man he knows. It's a letter of recommendation, in which he speaks of Jim in terms only used when speaking of a very close friend. Since Marlow has known Jim only briefly, he's going out on a limb to recommend him in such terms. But his warm affection for Jim is also apparent.

Jim is so overcome with gratitude that Marlow is embarrassed. Dealing with emotion obviously isn't his strong point. However, there's an element in Jim's extravagance that disturbs Marlow for a more serious reason. Marlow believes his gesture is a small thing: He's simply offered Jim a job as a way to keep him from starving. But Jim's elation comes in part from thinking that Marlow has validated his own romantic view of himself. He exits declaring that Marlow has given him a chance to start over "with a clean slate." In Marlow's view there's no such thing as a clean slate, and Jim is foolish if he hasn't learned a lesson (and forsaken some of his illusions) from abandoning the Patna. Jim, in contrast, would like to pretend that the Patna incident never happened. He wants to believe that his action had nothing to do with his true nature. Now he's rejoicing, to Marlow's discomfort, as though he thinks Marlow believes the same thing.

"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!" These words, which close the chapter, are frequently cited by readers commenting on Lord Jim. You should keep them in mind as you read the rest of the novel, because they have important implications. The second half of Lord Jim is about Jim's second chance, and the question for you to consider will be: Does Jim make up for his cowardly act, or is his nature such that he can't help repeating his mistakes? There won't be an obvious answer- you'll have to sift through the evidence and make up your own mind. Conrad's fatalistic words suggest that nobody can escape his destiny, that Jim will repeat his mistakes. If that's the case, then Jim's certainty that he can become a hero would be completely misguided. He's had one chance, and he's failed; if his destiny is really engraved in rock, there's no reason to think a second chance would make any difference.


In this chapter, Marlow narrates the painful episode of Jim's first job after the Patna inquiry. His employer is a Mr. Denver, the owner of a rice mill and the friend to whom Marlow had written the letter of recommendation. Denver is a wary old bachelor, with little trust in other human beings. Still, he grows so attached to Jim that he seems likely to make the young man his heir.

But a horrible coincidence brings the obnoxious little second engineer of the Patna to the rice mill. He doesn't expose Jim, but his behavior suggests he has blackmail in the back of his mind. Crestfallen, Jim runs away. Poor, wounded Mr. Denver gives every indication that he would have been willing to forgive Jim for anything. But forgiveness isn't enough for Jim- he wants that clean slate. He wants to live as though he never jumped off the Patna. He may be demanding the impossible. But at least you can't accuse him of being a fortune hunter.

Jim's next job is much less glorious. He works as a runner for the ship chandlers Egstrom & Blake, sailing out in a small boat to greet arriving vessels and talk their commanders into trading with his employers. One indication of his fall in status is the way he's addressed. At Denver's he was "Mr. James." At Egstrom & Blake's he's "Jimmy" or even "Mr. What's-your-name."

NOTE: At last the plot has arrived at the point where Chapter One began. You may want to thumb back now and look at those opening paragraphs. Many of the allusions that were mysterious when you started reading will be clear by now.

Bad luck strikes Jim here, too. One day conversation turns to the Patna, and kindly Mr. Egstrom drops the remark that he wouldn't want to be in the same room with its officers. Jim resigns at once.

Jim is being oversensitive. Egstrom's comment, it becomes clear, was a casual exaggeration. Like Mr. Denver, he would happily have forgiven Jim. But again, Jim is really running from himself. In this connection, Egstrom's prediction that the earth won't be big enough to hold Jim- meaning that his past will catch up with him wherever he goes- strikes an ominous note.


For several years Jim continues taking jobs and then fleeing them as soon as his real identity becomes known. The more desperately he tries to run from his past, the more inescapable it becomes. Eventually Jim becomes well known in his part of the world. Often he thinks he's hiding when everybody knows exactly who he is.

Marlow finally suggests to Siegmund Yucker, who at this point is employing Jim in Bangkok, that he send Jim "up country"- into the jungle interior- to attend to Yucker Brothers' dealings. Yucker is receptive to the idea. But an incident that evening changes his mind. A Danish lieutenant in the Siamese navy insults Jim in connection with the Patna incident. A brawl ensues. Jim, ever ready to resent a slur (recall the yellow-cur episode in Chapter Six), tosses the lieutenant into the local river. Yucker is disgusted, and Marlow once again has to find work for Jim, this time with De Jongh. But Marlow is becoming worried, because Jim is less able to bounce back from setbacks. What Jim wants is more than a living- "something in the nature of an opportunity," a second chance to prove he's a hero. (You'll note that "opportunity" is a word with much significance in Lord Jim.)

At a loss, Marlow decides to seek advice from a merchant named Stein, whom he describes as one of the most trustworthy men he has ever known. Stein's younger days were loaded with adventure, and he was a model of physical courage. Now he's a serious naturalist, well- known in scientific circles for his collection of butterflies and beetles.

You may have noticed that Conrad's device of having Marlow narrate Jim's story, so elegant in Chapters Five through Seventeen, has grown a little awkward in the last two chapters. Marlow can tell his listeners only what he knows, so Conrad has to have him constantly trailing Jim, getting his employers' side of the story and then getting Jim's. Conrad might have made things easier on himself by having Marlow get his information from Jim alone. But then you would lose the picture of Jim as a slightly mad idealist that comes largely from his employers- Jim certainly wouldn't portray himself that way. Fortunately, Marlow is a sea captain, so Conrad has a good excuse for sending him sailing from port to port.


Before describing their interview, Marlow tells his listeners something about Stein's background. He was born in Germany and fled after participating in the unsuccessful revolutionary movement of 1848, a background that suggests that Stein is, or at least was, an idealist himself. He later worked with a Dutch naturalist, who sparked his interest in butterflies and beetles and brought him to the Malay Archipelago. Eventually he was taken under the wing of a Scottish trader (whose name, you will learn in Chapter Twenty-two, is Alexander M'Neil), who bequeathed him his privileged trading position in the jungle interior. Stein became involved in the struggle over the succession to the native queen's throne, allying himself with her younger son, Mohammed Bonso. The two men were "the heroes of innumerable exploits." Stein married Mohammed Bonso's sister, "the princess," and they had a daughter; but now Mohammed Bonso, the princess, and the daughter are all dead. (This political background will explain Stein's connections in the territory of Patusan, to which Jim will be traveling shortly.) Does Stein sound like the kind of person Jim wants to be?

Marlow and Stein first talk about butterflies. Stein is examining a "rare specimen," and he tells Marlow the hair-raising story of its capture. It happened in the period of his alliance with Mohammed Bonso. He was the victim of an ambush, but he successfully warded off his attackers- there were "only seven" of them. (Marlow has already noted Stein's exceptional physical courage.) The butterfly's shadow fell over one of the men he had killed. Stein's deep emotion at catching it ("I shook like a leaf with excitement") contrasts amusingly with his perfect calm while defending his life.

Stein's collection of insects has considerable symbolic importance. Beetles and butterflies suggest two types of people. Likely candidates for the beetle category include the skipper of the Patna and the two engineers. Marlow had felt, when he first laid eyes on Jim, that he wanted to see him "squirming like an impaled beetle" for his crime (Chapter Five). That was before he knew anything about him. By now his opinion has gone up- so far up that he associates Jim with Stein's "rare specimen" of a butterfly. Jim is as superior to the worldly corruption around him as the "magnificent butterfly" Stein describes is to the "little heap of dirt" it sits on. (The frequent descriptions of Jim outfitted in spotless white in the midst of corruption or squalor support this impression.) But Jim, unlike a butterfly, can't soar above the mud, above the ugly and compromising facts- although he'd like to. Stein has a similar disparity in mind when he describes his butterfly as a "masterpiece" of nature and then says, "Man is amazing, but he is not a masterpiece." Man is amazing because he can dream, not quite a masterpiece because he can't always live up to those dreams.

After Marlow has narrated Jim's story, Stein delivers his diagnosis: "He is romantic." When Marlow inquires about a cure, Stein replies that there's only one cure: death. The question, paraphrasing Hamlet, isn't to be or not to be, but how to be- how to go on living with a romantic nature. The romantic wants to be "so fine as he can never be." His dreams are so big that he can't make them come true, and that of course is "not good."

Stein doesn't recommend that you give up dreaming- just the opposite. He offers the following metaphor: "A man that is born falls into a dream like a man who falls into the sea." If he tries to climb out, he's likely to drown. "No! I tell you! The way is to the destructive element submit yourself...."

No pronouncement in Lord Jim has aroused so much disagreement. No two interpretations are quite alike. In general, readers fall into two schools. One school associates the sea with the dream, and thus the dream becomes the destructive element you should learn to live with. (Presumably it's destructive because you wear yourself out trying to attain it.) The other school argues that the sea represents harsh reality, the "facts" that are destructive because they demolish dreams. Part of the confusion you can blame on Conrad. The metaphor isn't fully carried out: The sea is there, but where's the land?

However, if it's difficult to assign a precise meaning to Stein's metaphor, the general sense of his words is clear: keep following the dream. Being a romantic "is very bad- very bad.... Very good, too." It's very bad, in Jim's case, because dreaming impossible dreams makes him thoroughly impractical. But it's also very good, because it underlies his idealism. Continuing to dream is better than becoming a beetle-like cynic. Jim is the troubled person he is because of the "inward pain" that comes from the distance between his dreams and his abilities.

Ultimately, Stein can't advise Jim "how to be." When he tries, the words fail him. Some things, he admits, can't be explained- implying that you can learn them only through experience.

Marlow notes that Stein is as much a romantic as Jim, but with one difference. Stein has followed his dream unfalteringly. But Jim faltered on the night he jumped from the Patna.

Stein's response offers some hope that Jim will get a second chance. He declares that Marlow can't know how many opportunities he let escape. When Marlow retorts that Jim surely let one chance escape, Stein replies that everybody is guilty of that. Not everybody has abandoned the Patna, but we've all done things we would like to undo. And everybody hopes for a second chance. Why do you suppose Conrad created a character like Stein to give Jim a second chance?


The next morning Stein tells Marlow about the district of Patusan, where he has decided to send Jim as his trade representative. Patusan is hidden away 40 miles upriver, and few Europeans have ever been there. Stein's current representative, a Malayan-born Portuguese named Cornelius, is unsatisfactory. Stein wants him replaced, though Cornelius will probably choose to stay in Patusan with his daughter.

Perhaps the most striking image in the second half of the novel, first described in this chapter, is the moon rising above the two steep hills that overlook the village of Patusan. The hills are so close together that they might be two fissured halves of one peak. If Jim has been buried in Patusan, Marlow's description suggests a rebirth (Jim's "second chance"): The moon rises "as if escaping from a yawning grave in gentle triumph." Perhaps the "everlasting deep hole" into which Jim thought he had jumped (Chapter Nine) isn't everlasting after all. (But this symbol also has a negative side, which will be discussed in Chapter Twenty-four.)

Brierly said of Jim (Chapter Six), "Let him creep twenty feet underground and stay there!"- a remark Marlow now recalls. Marlow himself said (Chapter Fifteen), "To bury him would have been such an easy kindness!" Now Stein and Marlow speak of "burying" him in Patusan. The implication- borne out by the eloquent passage about exile later in the chapter- is that leaving one's civilization is a death of sorts. Patusan has already "been used as a grave for some sin, transgression, or misfortune" of the half-Dutch, half-Malay woman who was Cornelius' wife but is now dead. (This may be a hint that Cornelius wasn't the real father of her child.)

Marlow calls Jim "the youngest human being in existence" because Jim hasn't "grown up" as Marlow has, in the sense of giving up his illusions. Is that the only way Jim hasn't grown up? The chapter ends with a long, rambling, and very beautiful paragraph on the subject of exile. Marlow, of course, is considering Jim's exile from England and, now, from European civilization. But the passage is doubly poignant when you relate it to Conrad's self-imposed exile from his native Poland. It's possible he was thinking of his own sadness when he wrote of Jim's intense loneliness.

Marlow closes by saying, "My last words about Jim shall be few"- a pretty strange statement considering that his "last words" stretch out for another 24 chapters. But in fact Conrad never intended to develop Patusan at length. By the time he reached this point, he thought that he was almost through with the novel. The growth of the Patusan chapters apparently surprised him as much as anybody. But don't you think it's curious that he didn't delete that remark when he revised the serial version for book publication?


Patusan was once a seat of the pepper trade, but commerce has dwindled so far that now Stein is the only outsider doing business in the district. There is a mentally retarded Sultan, but the real power rests with his uncle, the Rajah Allang, a horrible ruler who robs and terrorizes the Malay populace. Marlow flashes forward to an audience Jim has with the Rajah. The image is memorable: Jim splendid, almost godlike in his immaculate white, surrounded by the dirty Rajah Allang and his squalid court.

Stein's reason for helping Jim is sentimental. He wants to honor the memory of Alexander M'Neil (mentioned in Chapter Twenty), a man who had helped him, by helping one of his countrymen. Though Jim comes "from a long way south of the Tweed" (a river that forms part of the border between Scotland and England), his being English, if not Scottish, is enough for Stein.

As usual, Jim is extravagantly grateful, and Marlow is embarrassed and gruff. Jim particularly appreciates the way Marlow has always trusted him. Marlow replies that he only wishes Jim could trust himself more. The remark makes Jim uneasy. Obviously he still fears that jumping off the Patna proved something about himself he doesn't want to believe.

Look at the sentence that begins this chapter: "The conquest of love, honour, men's confidence- the pride of it, the power of it, are fit materials for an heroic tale...." As a matter of fact, while the first half of Lord Jim was psychologically realistic, the second half is practically a storybook romance (except that few storybook heroes have a Patna in their pasts). The assumptions of the second half are radically different from those of the first half. Jim's romantic fantasies have so far earned him a good deal of scorn- they were dreams that could never come true. Now, suddenly, they seem to come true, at least for a while.

This isn't to say that the second half doesn't succeed on its own terms. What it may not do is succeed on the terms of the first half- a different definition of reality seems to operate in each part. Conrad himself recognized the flaw, calling the cleavage between the two parts "the plague spot" of the novel. As you read you should note the differences between the two parts, then decide whether or not the novel forms a unified whole in spite of them.


Jim returns from a conference with Stein, who has given him a silver ring as a token for a certain Doramin. This Doramin, an ally from the Mohammed Bonso days, is now one of the most powerful men in Patusan. Stein once saved his life; Doramin gave him the ring when they parted.

Jim is as elated about his prospects, and as talkative as you'd expect of someone who's never grown up. Marlow suddenly feels "thoroughly sick of him." He doesn't like hearing Jim boast about what he'll do- though he admits, returning to an old theme, that illusions are the privilege of youth. Marlow reprimands Jim for approaching his journey in the wrong frame of mind. Jim cuts at once to the root of what's bothering Marlow: He remembers the Patna, as everybody does. Marlow retorts that it's Jim who keeps remembering.

Marlow gives Jim a revolver, which he has every reason to think Jim will need in strife-torn Patusan. But when Jim rushes off to the ship that's to carry him to the mouth of the Patusan river, Marlow notices that he forgot the cartridges and takes off in pursuit. When he reaches Jim's ship, he has a talk with the half-caste skipper, whose conversation is peppered with malapropisms (comic misuses of words). Despite his bad English, the skipper impresses on Marlow that the current situation in Patusan is dangerous. He knows, having almost been killed when he sailed there a year ago. In his view, Jim is as good as dead.

Perhaps because he's so frightened for Jim, Marlow loses some of his usual embarrassment when it comes time to say goodbye. The two men share "a moment of real and profound intimacy," with Jim promising he'll be careful, like a boy reassuring an anxious parent. But Marlow knows that Jim is doing the right thing, and he admits sadly to his listeners that Jim's accusation was fair: Marlow really did remember "his- his misfortunes" (that's as harsh a word as he can bring himself to use) against him. Jim cries out something as he sails away- either "You shall hear of me" or "You shall hear from me." Considering that he wants so badly to be a hero, and that he's shutting the door on his old life, it's probably the former.


In order for Marlow to continue narrating the story, Conrad has to give him a way of having heard it. So he sends Marlow himself to Patusan, two years after Jim. Marlow describes hearing Jim called "Tuan Jim" and talks about his fame. Jim's prediction that Marlow would hear of him has come to pass.

The narrative returns to Jim's first approach. The Patusan river has long been closed; Jim, the first white man to travel upstream for some time, sits tense, attentive to possible dangers. Meanwhile, his opportunity, his second chance, sits "veiled by his side like an Eastern bride"- an image that will recur at the very end of the novel.

Jim travels upriver with an unloaded gun, an act that Marlow, in retrospect, considers foolish. But Jim insists he was lucky the gun wasn't loaded. Otherwise he might have shot into the hostile crowd that threatened him when he arrived. They, in turn, would have killed him on the spot.

His staying alive, Jim reflects, was as fortunate for Patusan as it was for himself. He's brought peace to the land; there's not one household where he isn't trusted. Marlow assures Jim he knew all along that he was "all right," but Jim is skeptical. In fact, you know from Marlow's remark about remembering, at the end of the last chapter, that he wasn't sure about Jim at all. And he still isn't, even as he tells the story. Marlow keeps dropping little hints that something in Jim's success makes him uneasy.

The image of the moon rising, so striking in Chapter Twenty-one, recurs here in a more disturbing context. Declaring that sunlight "is all we have to live by" and thus equating it with truth, Marlow calls moonlight "misleading and confusing" because it gives form to unreal shadows. Thus, even though Marlow insists that Jim's greatness is "as genuine as any man ever achieved," the recurring link between the Patusan moonlight and Jim's exploits creates an aura of doubt. Are Jim's achievements real or illusory? Has he made up for deserting the Patna, or is he still capable of the same folly? The similarity between the words Patna and Patusan isn't very reassuring. Will Patusan turn out to be a repeat of the Patna?


Marlow describes an audience the Rajah Allang (also called Tunku Allang) holds with Jim and him. As they drink the rajah's coffee, Marlow realizes that it may be poisoned. The rajah hates Jim and has good reason to kill him. Jim drinks his coffee in order to demonstrate his fearlessness. Apparently it works; the rajah is terrified of him.

The story returns to Jim's arrival in Patusan. He is immediately taken prisoner by the rajah. On the third day he escapes by leaping over the stockade wall. After frantic effort, he finally reaches old Doramin, Stein's friend, and shows him the ring. Doramin puts him under his protection.

Doramin's power is second only to the rajah's. He leads a faction of Bugis immigrants from the island of Celebes. The friction in Patusan has to do with trade. There is no free trade. The rajah holds a monopoly on commerce. The penalty for trading with anybody else is death.

A third faction is led by an "Arab half-breed" and religious fanatic named Sherif Ali. His followers are the bush people of the interior, whom he's incited to destructive rampages. He has established a stronghold on one of the twin peaks overlooking the village. He's aligned with neither the rajah's nor Doramin's faction, and both groups are extremely fearful of him.


Marlow describes the wealthy, dignified Doramin, so massive that he can stand and walk only with assistance. Significantly, Doramin carries an immense pair of pistols that Stein presented to him in exchange for the ring. Doramin's only son, Dain Waris ("Dain" is Malay for "heir"), has become Jim's best friend in Patusan.

In describing Dain Waris' virtues, Marlow exposes some of his own racist assumptions. The highest praise he can offer is that Dain Waris thinks like a white man. He shows "courage in the open" (rather than furtiveness?). In addition, his "European mind" gives him "an unobscured vision, a tenacity of purpose, a touch of altruism"- implying that other Malays are nearsighted, irresolute, and selfish. This kind of racism, though commonplace in the imperial Britain of Marlow's day, doesn't surface in Lord Jim very often. Dain Waris, in any case, is distinguished and brave, and he's adored by his parents.

Conrad must have perceived the storybook turn his novel had taken. "They are like people in a book, aren't they?" Jim asks Marlow. Earlier (Chapter Twenty- three), when Stein gave him the ring, he had said, "It's like something you read of in books." Do you think the quotations suggest a certain self-consciousness on Conrad's part? Or is Jim confusing reality with the romances he had read?

Marlow describes the preparations leading to the defeat of Sherif Ali. The whole undertaking is Jim's idea, and he promises to pay with his life if it fails. (This isn't the last time he'll make such a romantically heroic promise.) The plan calls, in part, for hauling cannon up the hill across from Sherif Ali's "impregnable" camp. Jim plans the complex assault, and he infects Doramin's men with his own enthusiasm, proving himself a genuine leader. For once his vivid imagination works for him, not against him.

Even as Marlow hears Jim tell the story, he connects the landscape of Patusan with gloom- "the light fell on it as if into an abyss," he notes ominously. Even now he can't help remembering Jim's disgrace "like a shadow in the light."


Marlow finishes narrating the defeat of Sherif Ali. With the cannon firing from one peak, Jim and Dain Waris lead the attackers up the other. Conquest is immediate and total, an outcome Jim never doubted. He had once insisted to Marlow (Chapter Seven) that circumstances on the Patna caught him by surprise but proved nothing about his bravery: "It is all in being ready." Now he's proved that under the right circumstances he can be courageous indeed. His dreams have come true.

Jim's reputation immediately grows to mythic proportions. Even his laughter is "Homeric," calling to mind the larger-than-life heroes of the Iliad and the Odyssey. The Malays regard him as a white god, and he becomes a local Solomon, meting out justice, settling disputes. Jim complains of the responsibility, but of course the trust of so many people is extremely important to the man who once betrayed the trust of 800 pilgrims.

Marlow briefly describes Tamb' Itam, Jim's personal servant. He is, like Jim, a stranger to Patusan, a dark-skinned Malay from the north, morose and taciturn. His devotion to Jim is almost fanatical.


When the country people whom Sherif Ali has driven from their villages return to them, Jim chooses the headmen. This is one source of his political power. He also protects the Rajah Allang from the vengeance of Doramin's Bugis followers. This is why the Rajah can't afford to poison Jim's coffee: Jim is a safeguard, as well as a threat.

Marlow describes an interview with Doramin. The old man makes no secret of his ambitions for his son, Dain Waris: He wants to see him as ruler of Patusan. Partly for this reason, he's disgruntled when Marlow assures him that Jim won't ever leave. In addition to curiosity (what could make Jim forsake his own people?), there's a hint of resentment in his surprise.

Marlow now turns to a new subject: Jim's love life. Jim has fallen in love with the daughter of Cornelius, the man who was Stein's representative in Patusan before Jim's arrival. Actually, Cornelius is not the woman's real father. Cornelius' wife, now dead, apparently married him after she had become pregnant, to save the girl from illegitimacy. The daughter has her mother's fine, sensitive nature. Cornelius, in contrast, is "awful," "unspeakable."

Jim calls her by a word that translates as "Jewel." The name has given rise to another "Jim-myth," which Marlow encounters some 230 miles south of the Patusan River. Jim, it's rumored, has gotten possession of a precious "jewel," supposedly a tremendous emerald. Marlow recounts at some length the version he hears from a seedy government official, as well as the way various others embroider the tale.


Marlow continues his description of Jewel. She has the qualities you would expect of the heroine of a romance- beauty, devotion, charm. But there's something additional: her affection is "vigilant." Marlow notices an anxiety in her love, as if she can sense that something is threatening Jim. Marlow describes their relationship, which on the surface looks perfect, as an "uneasy romance."

NOTE: Jim is in a certain amount of danger from the Rajah Allang. But Marlow's vaguely ominous tone, combined with the authority of Jewel's intuition, hints at a deeper danger. The reader, of course, knows what Jewel can't: that Jim is hiding the secret of his past. So the shadow of the Patna incident remains visible on the periphery of an otherwise sunny romance.

Marlow talks some more about Tamb' Itam, another figure typical in this kind of tale. Tamb' Itam is silent, alert, and such a devoted servant that he spends his nights sleeping on Jim's verandah, rather than at home with his family.

Finally, Marlow comes to Cornelius, Jewel's legal father. Cornelius is about as disgusting as a man can become: "unsavoury," "abject," "a loathsome insect," "a repulsive beetle." He is, in fact, the clearest instance of the "beetle" type (see the Note in Chapter Twenty) in the novel. During the period after Jim's escape from the Rajah's stockade, but before the attack on Sherif Ali, Jim goes to live with Cornelius and Jewel in the decaying house belonging to Stein's Trading Company. Cornelius tends to speak of his dead wife, Jewel's mother, in a way that's so nasty it makes Jewel cry. So Jim has to forbid him to talk about her. Cornelius is abjectly courteous to Jim, but he viciously resents him. (After all, Stein has sent Jim to Patusan as his replacement.) There are also indications that he's mishandled Stein's business, though whether from dishonesty or incompetence isn't clear.

Jim, meanwhile, has other worries. As long as he was living in the Bugis quarter of Patusan, he had enjoyed Doramin's protection from the Rajah Allang's vengeance. He's moved in with Cornelius out of his sense of responsibility to Stein. Now rumors begin to reach him that the Rajah is planning his death.

THE STORY, continued


ECC [Lord Jim Contents] []

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