Summary and Analysis
The footsteps which Marlow heard that night were Jim's, but Marlow was unable to talk any further with Jewel that night — or with Jim. He left, and as he walked away in the cool darkness of the night, he was awed anew at Jim's plans for a coffee plantation on Patusan, along with all of Jim's other plans and his seemingly inexhaustible energy; Marlow could not understand Jim's optimistic enthusiasm for ever so many experiments."
Marlow confesses that he stood alone that night long enough to succumb to "a sentimental mood." He felt strange and melancholy, remote and lost. Here he was in Patusan, in this forgotten, obscure corner of the world, where he was privy to terrible secrets, and where a man's destiny was being decided and where a woman's love was breaking her heart.
Marlow knew that the essence of that moment and the emotions of that moment would be lost tomorrow, and even if that moment were remembered, it would never again seem as real as it did at that moment; it would always seem as if it were an illusion. And yet it is that moment which Marlow has tried to recount for his listeners.
Marlow's moment of insight into Jim's destiny was shattered by Cornelius, who bolted out of the undergrowth, "vermin-like" and running toward Marlow, whining and cringing, trying to confide in him. Usually, Marlow says, he was so repulsed by the creature that a quick glance at him had always caused him to slink away. But that night, I let him capture me without even a show of resistance." Marlow says that he felt "doomed to be the recipient of [Cornelius'] confidences."
Cornelius came immediately to the point. He wanted Marlow to talk to Jim and ask him for "some money in exchange for the girl." He had raised her, and she had been someone else's child. Now he was an old man, and he felt that a "suitable present" (money) should be given to him when Jim decided to "go home."
Marlow insisted that Jim was not preparing to leave; in fact, he said "the time will never come." Jim would never go home, Marlow emphasized. Cornelius nearly went into convulsions when he heard this statement. He cried out that he would be "trampled" by Jim until the day he died. He leaned his head against the fence and began uttering threats and blasphemies in Portuguese, mingled with groans and cries of sickness. It was, says Marlow, "an inexpressibly grotesque and vile performance," and so he departed.
Next morning, as Marlow was leaving, he watched the houses of Patusan disappearing behind him. The trees and the river and the people all disappeared, but their clear-cut, indelible, unchanging, unfaded images were stamped upon Marlow's memory. All of these memories, especially those of the people, are suspended now-flat replicas filed away forever, unchanging. All unchanging, that is, except Marlow's memory of Jim. Marlow can't be certain of his final image of Jim. "No magician's wand can immobilize him under my eyes," he says, because "he is one of us."
Jim accompanied Marlow on the first stage of his journey back to "the real world," and after they landed on a bit of white beach, Jim noticed a fisherman signaling to him and he knew what must be done. Tomorrow, he told Marlow, he would meet with Rajah Allang and discuss the fisherman's problems concerning some turtle eggs, no doubt weighing the fisherman's claim against those of Rajah Allang's men. As Jim said, "the old rip [Allang] can't get it into his head that . . ." and Marlow finished Jim's sentence: that you [Jim] have changed all that."
The two men shook hands then, and Marlow told Jim that he would be returning to England in a year or so, and Jim asked Marlow to "Tell them and then he stopped. "Tell them nothing," he said finally.
Marlow clamored on board his schooner. The sun had set, and the western horizon was a blaze of gold and crimson. He saw two half-naked fishermen talking to their "white lord." As Marlow sailed away, the white figure of Jim, pasted against the stillness of the sea, became only a tiny white speck. And, suddenly, Marlow says, "I lost him. . . ."
These two chapters end Marlow's direct association with Lord Jim. The rest of Jim's story will be given to us by reports, documents, and letters concerning Jim, along with Jewel's and Tamb' Itam's reports of Jim.
We hear again that Jewel refuses to believe that Jim is not "good enough" for the outside world, and Marlow's attempts to convince her of Jim's loyalty by his explanations "only succeeded in adding to her anguish the hint of some mysterious collusion, of an inexplicable and incomprehensible conspiracy to keep her forever in the dark."
Marlow was ready to leave because he was now convinced that his earlier views of Jim were the correct ones — that is, Jim had indeed proved to all concerned that "he was one of us," and now Marlow saw that all of his efforts on Jim's behalf and all of his trust in Jim's essential goodness had been fully justified; thus, Marlow was now content to leave Jim to his own destiny, knowing full well that they would never meet again — that is, that he (Marlow) would never return to Patusan and that Jim would never leave Patusan.
These chapters also present more of Cornelius, a villainous man whom Marlow completely misreads. Marlow considers Cornelius to be such a repulsive, spiteful, cringing, insidious insect that he, Cornelius, is not really dangerous. Marlow, in essence, dismisses this obnoxious creature as being "too insignificant to be dangerous." In terms of Cornelius' treachery with "Gentleman Brown" later, we realize that Marlow is wrong in his interpretation of Comelius' "insignificance."