Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Cornelius's prediction soon comes true, for Jim arrives to see Brown early the next morning. He comes dressed in white (white helmet, white clothes, white shoes) and unarmed. He is the picture of confidence. Brown immediately does not like Jim. He resents Jim's youth, self-assurance, and goodness; he also is jealous of the fact that Jim is loved and trusted by the natives.
Jim asks Brown why he has come to Patusan. Brown answers that hunger has brought him there. Brown counter-questions Jim. When Jim flounders in coming up with an answer, Brown senses Jim's weakness and knows he can easily overcome him. Brown tells Jim that there must be no military encounter because lives and property would be lost. He knows that Jim will agree to this because Jim loves the natives. Throughout their talk, Brown, having seen Jim's weakness, makes insinuations about something shady in Jim's past. Brown comments that he is traveling to escape imprisonment. He asks Jim if he is afraid of imprisonment or anything else. The question forces Jim to think about the Patna incident.
This chapter reveals the meeting between Brown and Jim. Brown immediately dislikes Jim, for he sees a complete opposite from himself in this young, self-assured man who is surrounded with love, security, and power. Jim's goodness is a sharp contrast to Brown's evil depravity.
The chapter also shows that the past still haunts Jim. Brown does not know about the Patna incident, but senses Jim's weakness and hints about them both having a shady past. In Jim's mind, there is a common bond between him and Brown, because they both feel guilty. As a result, Jim fails to understand the villainy and depravity of this enemy, who quickly assesses Jim's vulnerability and immediately understands that he can do away with Jim.
The setting of the chapter is significant, for it is the same place where Jim first landed in Patusan, which was his second big "jump" in the novel. As he and Brown talk face to face, Brown says that he himself is "not the sort to jump out of trouble." Conrad is foreshadowing that Jim is about to take his third jump; this time he will not jump out of trouble, but leap into death.