Lord Jim By Joseph Conrad Summary and Analysis Chapters 24-25

Summary

Two years later, Marlow visited Patusan, carrying a message from Stein to Jim, which instructed Jim to set up a proper trading post. Marlow marveled at the misty ocean, the swampy plains, and the far-off blue mountain peaks. He stopped at a fishing village and engaged an old man who seemed to be the village's head man to pilot him upriver.

Most of the old man's talk on the way up was about "Tuan Jim," or Lord Jim, a man of whom he spoke with warm, glowing familiarity and simple awe. Clearly, all the villagers loved and trusted Jim. In fact, most of them believed that he had supernatural powers. In the short time that Jim had lived in Patusan, many legends had grown up around him. Marlow was told, for example, that on the day Jim arrived, the tide rose two hours before its usual time in order to carry Jim upriver.

Later, when Jim and Marlow were sitting on the verandah of Jim's house, Marlow listened to Jim's version of his arrival at Patusan. Jim had sat on the tin luggage box during the entire voyage, his unloaded revolver on his lap. It was an exhausting journey, he said, the boat scissoring through crocodiles, and the jungle seeming to be continually formidable and ominous. Near the end of the journey, he dozed. When he awakened, he noticed that his three paddlers had disappeared. Almost immediately, he was taken prisoner by armed men who escorted him to Rajah Allang, the little "used-up" despot.

Jim paused, and Marlow reflected that the "experiment" had turned out remarkably well. There was none of Jim's former hypersensitivity to guilt and anguish. Instead, Jim seemed to have conquered his urge to punish himself. He had won the trust, the friendship, and the love of the natives. And he had even attained a kind of fame.

As Jim talked to Marlow, Marlow noted Jim's deep and fierce love for the land. To leave Patusan would be, Jim said, "harder than dying." According to Marlow, Jim had become both Patusan's master and its captive.

On their way to meet Rajah Allang, Jim pointed out to Marlow a filthy stockade in which he was held captive for three days. On the third day, he said, he did the only thing he could do: he tried to escape.

At that moment of their conversation, however, they met Rajah Allang. Marlow says that he was immediately impressed with the man's respectful attitude toward Jim, who only two years before had been this man's prisoner. Jim and Marlow witnessed Rajah Allang's solving a village problem, and then they were offered coffee. Marlow was reluctant to drink his, fearing that it might be poisoned, but Jim unperturbedly sipped his coffee.

Later, Jim told Marlow that he had to constantly prove that he was worthy of their trust. He had to drink their coffee. He had to take the risk — "take it every month" — the natives trusted him to do that. Jim said that Rajah Allang was most likely afraid of Jim precisely because Jim was not afraid to drink the Rajah's coffee.

After Jim escaped from Rajah Allang's stockade two years ago and found safety with Doramin, he learned about the warring factions that seemed to rule Patusan. They were:

(1) Rajah Allang, from whom Jim had just escaped; he brought blood and fiery destruction on any villager who attempted to trade with the outside world. Rajah Allang wanted to be the exclusive trader in Patusan.

(2) Stein's friend Doramin was the "second chief" in Patusan. Years ago, he was elected by "his people," immigrants from the Dutch West Indies; his party opposed Rajah Allang's terrorizing monopoly on trading.

(3) The other "leader" of Patusan was a half-breed Arab, Sherif Ali. He incited the interior tribes with religious fervor, and his followers practiced guerrilla warfare. He had a camp on the summit of one of Patusan's twin mountains, where he hung over the village "like a hawk over a poultry yard." Of the three powers that controlled Patusan, Sherif Ali was the most dangerous — to Rajah Allang's people, and to the Bugis Malays under old Doramin.

Analysis

Again in these chapters, Conrad (or Marlow) skips about from past time to present time (two years later). We witness a scene when Marlow visits Jim, and then the narrator returns to a past time, when Jim first arrived in Patusan.

Marlow even hints of future occurrences and tells the story of Jim's arrival from a distance of many years, and so it seems natural to him (and, of course, to Conrad) to call up, first, one experience and then another — without due regard for their time sequences.

By the time of Marlow's arrival, the natives are calling Jim "Tuan Jim" or, in English, Lord Jim, and we are told that Jim has won their respect and, in some cases, their awe; already, many legendary stories have grown up around Lord Jim. Without our knowing how Lord Jim accomplished it, we are informed that he had indeed achieved a type of greatness — complete trust and ultimate respect in this outpost. "He was approaching greatness as genuine as any man ever achieved."

When Jim first arrived, we hear from Marlow (who is narrating what Jim told him) that Jim had been held captive for three days, and Marlow points out that had he Jim) been killed then, the entire province of Patusan "would have been the loser." Even Jim recognizes his greatness and appreciates the fact that now, "there is not one [house] where I am not trusted." Lord Jim has at last, finally, found his niche in the universe, and he will never leave Patusan, the place where he is honored and trusted, respected and loved.

In addition to Jim's newfound self-assurance and happiness, Marlow noticed other differences in Jim. He was now more intellectually alert; there was an eloquence and "a dignity in his constitutional reticence" and a "high seriousness" in his actions that showed "how deeply, how solemnly" he felt about his work at Patusan. Marlow concluded that Jim had indeed found himself.

When Jim took Marlow to the place where Rajah Allang, who had held him prisoner, lived, Jim showed great courage in drinking coffee once a month with the Rajah — even though he knew that it might be poisoned.

Lord Jim then told Marlow of his escape — of another "Jump," which this time led him to a bog where, for awhile, he was stuck in mud and slime. When he emerged, he was symbolically covered with filth, but even in this disgusting condition, he ran to Doramin's stockade where he showed him the ring and was accepted into Doramin's family, thus symbolically emerging from the filth and slime to begin anew a new, clean, productive life. The symbolism is obvious: the "jump" that takes Jim deep into the vile slime and mud of the creek represents the jump from the Patna which immersed Jim deep into vile shame and everlasting remorse.

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At Jim's trial, someone said, "Look at that wretched cur." Who did Jim think said it?




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