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When the other officers struggled to loosen the lifeboat, Jim stood away from them. He did not want to participate in their escape. He grew angry, however, as he thought about the storm and the disaster that was about to happen. In the end, he went up to the boat and cut the ropes that were holding it. He then watched in amazement as the officers scrambled to get in and save themselves; he judged them as cowards and hated them. The departing crew called Jim a fool for staying behind and told him that the pilgrims would probably batter him before he drowned.
As Jim looked into the pitch darkness, the ship heaved in the storm that was growing worse. Suddenly, he heard the men shouting from the lifeboat below, calling out for George, the third engineer, to jump in the boat. Before Jim even realized what he was doing, he followed their commands and jumped. He would blame himself for that mistake forever. He feels as though he has jumped into an "everlasting deep hole."
Marlow repeats Jim's vivid account of his desertion of the Patna. The reader clearly perceives the confusion that Jim experienced and is told that in the confusion and panic, the young sailor did not realize what he was doing. Jim's jump into the everlasting black hole is symbolic of his fall from idealism into the real world, the drop from his dream into the truth. The hole becomes Jim's hell, both physically and mentally. His self-torture starts with the jump, which becomes the turning point in his life, the point that becomes the black spot in his character and career.
While Jim narrated his tale, he shivered uncomfortably, and Marlow could see clearly that he was very much upset. Again he asks Marlow, "What would you have done?" Marlow continues to be sympathetic to the young sailor, saying one more time that he is "one of us." He clearly believes that most people, when confronted with certain death, would react like Jim and jump.