Lord Jim By Joseph Conrad Summary and Analysis Chapters 44-45

Summary

Brown ordered his men to load on board, telling them that he would give them "a chance to get even with [the Bugis] before we're done." He was answered by low growls.

Meanwhile, Tamb' ltam reached Dain Waris' camp and was immediately taken to Dain Waris, who was resting on a raised couch made of bamboo. Tamb' Itam handed him the silver ring from Lord Jim. Brown and the white men, he said, "were to be allowed to pass down the river."

Dain Waris listened attentively, then slipped on Jim's ring and gave orders to prepare breakfast and make ready for the return in the afternoon. Then he lay back down and watched the sun eat up the mist and the fog.

It was then that Brown took his revenge. It was, says Marlow, an act of cold-blooded ferocity," and it seemed all the worse later. Brown used the memory of it to "console" himself as he lay on his deathbed.

Brown landed his men on the other side of the island opposite Dain Waris' camp and Cornelius led the way to the Bugis' camp. The Bugis were in plain sight. No one guessed that the white men knew about the narrow channel behind the camp. At the precise moment, Brown yelled out, "Let them have it," and fourteen shots rang out.

For a moment, not a soul moved. Then blind panic drove them wildly to and fro on the shore like a herd of frightened cattle. Three times Brown's men fired into the Bugis' camp. Tamb' Itam dropped immediately and lay as if he were dead. He told Marlow that after the first volley of shots, Dain Waris raised up from his couch and received a bullet in his forehead. In a few minutes, the white men vanished.

A month later, three parched, glassy-eyed, whispering skeletons, one of whom said his name was Brown, were picked up in the Indian Ocean. Brown, of course, lived and was interviewed by Marlow.

Tamb' ltam told Marlow that Brown did not take Cornelius with him. Cornelius was seen running among the Bugis corpses, uttering little confused cries. Tamb' Itam caught him and stabbed him twice. Then Cornelius "screeched like a frightened hen," Tamb' Itam says, and so he shoved his spear through him and "life went out of his eyes." Immediately thereafter, Tamb' Itam left for the fort to report to the Bugis what had happened to Dain Waris and his men.

The town of Patusan had a festive air. The women were crowded together in throngs, waiting for the return of Dain Waris and his men. The city gate was wide open.

Tamb' Itam was panting and trembling when he finally reached the town. He saw Jewel, and he mumbled half-coherently to her what had happened during Brown's ambush. Then he ran to Jim's house. Jim was sleeping, but when he saw the confused state that Tamb' Itam was in, he wanted the truth: was Dain Waris dead?

When he learned the tragic news, he immediately gave orders for Tamb' ltam to assemble boats, but Jim's bodyguard told him that after Dain Waris was killed, it was no longer safe for Jim's "servant to go out amongst the people." Jim understood. His world had fallen in ruins. Everything was lost — particularly the confidence that the Bugis had once placed in Jim. Loneliness closed in on Jim. The people had trusted him with their lives, and he had failed them. There was much weeping among the people, but there was more anger within them.

The sun was sinking above the forest when Dain Waris' body was brought into Doramin's compound. The body was laid under a tree, and all of the women began to wail, mourning in shrill cries and screaming in high, singsong lamentations.

Both Tamb' Itam and Jewel urged Jim either to make a stand or to try to escape, but Jim refused. "I have no life," Jim told Tamb' Itam and Jewel. The girl begged Jim to fight, but Jim could not. "Forgive me," he told Jewel, but she could not. "Never, never!" she screamed after him. Neither she nor Tamb' Itam could understand Jim's code of honor.

Jim went to old Doramin and told him that he had come "in sorrow . . . ready and unarmed." Doramin struggled to his feet, helped up by his attendants, and as he rose, the silver ring that he had taken off Dain Waris' finger slipped off his lap and rolled forward toward Jim's feet. Here was "the talisman that had opened for him the door of fame, love, and success."

Jim looked up and saw that Doramin was aiming a pistol directly at his chest. He looked at the old nakhoda with "proud and unflinching" eyes. Doramin fired, and Jim fell forward.

"And that's the end," writes Marlow. Even today, Jim remains a mystery to the girl and to Tamb' Itam. But, to Marlow, Jim is not a total mystery. It is true, Marlow says, that Jim passed away "under a cloud, inscrutable . . . and excessively romantic," for not even in his boyhood days could Jim have dreamed such a romantic destiny for himself — and yet that is exactly what he wanted most in life. But ultimately, Marlow said, Jim was not so different. He was, still, even at the end, "one of us."

Analysis

These last two chapters are filled with more action per se than any of the other chapters. We see the attack, the panic caused among the Bugis, the death of Dain Waris, Tamb' Itam's killing of Cornelius and then his quick flight back to Lord Jim, and after Jim's confrontation with Jewel, concerning whether or not to fight, we see Lord Jim go to meet Doramin with the full knowledge of his impending death.

These final chapters show the penultimate treachery of "Gentleman Brown" — his "act of cold-blooded ferocity." What happened, Marlow says, was a lesson — "a demonstration of some obscure and awful attribute of our nature which, I am afraid, is not so very far under the surface as we like to think." Marlow seems to be implying that just as all men are capable of "Jumping" (as Lord Jim did aboard the Patna), likewise, all men are also capable of some sort of treachery, as performed by Brown. Certainly, Brown himself implied the same theory to Lord Jim, an idea so unnerving that it caused Jim to fail to see Brown's treachery clearly. However, Brown exceeds all decency when he gloats on his deathbed about the havoc that he wreaked upon Lord Jim. In his last moments on earth, Brown rejoiced that Lord Jim was ultimately killed.

When Lord Jim climbs up to Doramin's village to face certain death, he climbs back all of the way that he had "jumped" when he deserted the Patna. Jim has conquered fear and shame. He has discovered the chance he waited for, the opportunity to restore to himself his own vision of himself.

Jewel can never understand Jim's decision not to fight and as we have seen earlier at Stein's, she will never forgive Jim because she fully believes that he, like all white men, has deliberately deserted her. Her last words to him as he walks toward Doramin are: "You are false!" She screams these words to Jim, who asks her forgiveness. "Never! Never!" she calls back. Unfortunately, Jewel will never understand Lord Jim's moral position. He had no choice. Morally, Jim had to prove his worth to himself; fighting had nothing to do with the honor which he had to try and find within himself.

Jim promised safety for his people if they would let Brown go, and he offered his life as proof that they could trust Brown. Now Dain Waris and many others are dead. Jim had to offer his own life in payment. He was a Lord to his people, and he had to give his life when it was necessary. This time, Jim did not flee, and he did not jump.

He had conquered fear and shame, and he met death as a hero would. He made a bargain with the human community, a community he once deserted, and he paid for its trust with his life. At last, Jim became the master of his own destiny.

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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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