Summary and Analysis
At this point, Marlow interrupts his narrative in order to introduce us to the incredible person of Doramin, the longtime friend of Stein. Doramin, Marlow says, was remarkable. He was an imposing, monumental hulk of a man, with proud, staring eyes. In contrast, his wife was light, delicate, quick, and a little witchlike, despite the fact that she was always fussing over him.
Their only son, Dain Waris, was Jim's best friend. He was married at eighteen and was now twenty-five. He was attentive and deeply respectful of his parents, and he loved Jim and trusted him implicitly and without reservation. Because of their deep, warm, war-comrade sort of friendship, each of the men, Marlow says, was a "captive" of the other, just as Marlow observed earlier that Jim was a "captive" of Patusan.
These, then, were Jim's most trusted allies, those to whom he would owe complete allegiance when he initiated his plan to bring peace to Patusan. He had no other choice than to try and bring peace to the island, he told Marlow; in fact, he felt compelled to try and bring peace to the island.
"It seemed to come to me. All at once I saw what I had to do." Everywhere that Jim looked, he saw fear. He realized that he would have to do something dramatic and daring in order to control both Rajah Allang and Sherif Ali. In a moment of almost mystical vision, Jim realized that he had "the power to make peace"; that was to be his purpose in Patusan.
His plan was bold and audacious, but he believed that he could persuade enough of the natives who supported Doramin to help him destroy Sherif Ali's stockade. Not surprisingly, Dain Waris was the first native to support Jim's plan.
First, two old and rusty "seven-pound brass cannons" had to be hauled by ingenious means up one of the mountains. From that vantage point, Jim could blow up Sherif Ali's camp on the other mountain, and then a large group of men would storm through the remains of Sherif Ali's camp.
The men worked all night long in a superhuman effort to pull the enormously heavy cannons up the mountain, the noses of them "tearing slowly through the bushes, like a wild pig rooting its way in the undergrowth." Sherif Ali watched Jim and the natives and thought that they were idiotic. But old Doramin was so fascinated by Jim's plan that he had himself carried up the hill in his armchair so that he could watch. Jim figured that if his plan didn't work, Doramin had decided that he wanted to die on the mountain. Nobody, Jim says, truly believed that his plan would work — except Jim himself.
Marlow says that after Jim's dramatically successful rout of Sherif Ali, he became a legend in Patusan; the natives believed that he had supernatural powers. Stories were told about Jim's literally carrying the enormous brass cannons up the mountain on his back. Jim laughed a "Homeric peal of laughter" when he related this tale to Marlow. Speaking of the enormous explosion, he said, "You should have seen the splinters fly."
Jim and Dain Waris were the first ones to invade the stockade, which was built so flimsily that it almost fell down before them. Instantly, Dain Waris saved Jim's life from the spear of a "pockmarked tattooed native."
The third man into the ruins of the stockade was young Tamb' Itam, and from that moment on, Tamb' Itam became inseparable from Jim. Symbolically, he would follow Jim everywhere, like, Marlow says, "a morose shadow of darkness." Very soon, Jim made him "headman," and all Patusan respected him and accepted him as a man of much influence.
The rout was complete, but afterwards, it was, Jim said, "an awful responsibility," for when success came, Jim realized almost instantly that his soul had been absorbed "into the innermost life of the people." He was the epitome of a hero to the Patusan people. He had their "blind trust." They were totally dependent on him. Their dependence was Jim's total responsibility. Jim was suddenly granted power. Thus, it was no wonder that Jim told Marlow that he had a sudden, jarring sense of isolation and loneliness. He had become "an exceptional man." Every word that he spoke was "the one truth of every passing day." From now on, the natives would look to Jim for Truth.
Chapter 26 establishes the fact that Doramin, his wife, and their son Dain Waris are a very closely knit family, with Dain Waris being the son of their later life. Likewise, Conrad (Marlow) is anxious to establish the close bond of friendship that exists between Lord Jim and Dain Waris. It should also perhaps be noted that although we are constantly told about the depth of this friendship between Dain Waris and Lord Jim, we seldom see it in operation except for the fact that Dain Waris was the first person to endorse Lord Jim's plan to bombard Sherif Ali's stronghold, and that it was Dain Waris who saved Jim's life. Of course, we are also told that Dain Waris "not only trusted Jim, he understood him."
The emphasis upon the closeness between Doramin and his son and upon the close friendship between Lord Jim and Dain Waris foreshadows the final moments in Lord Jim's life. Likewise, the pair of magnificent pistols on Doramin's knees will play a sinister part later on. These are the "immense flintlock pistols" which Stein gave Doramin in exchange for the ring which Doramin gave Stein, and these are the pistols which will be the instruments of death for Jim.
Jim's desire to bring peace to the land becomes tantamount in his mind. His own fate and, later, his fame are both based upon the success of his attack against Sherif Ali. After the success of the bold plan to take the cannons up the mountain and after his routing Sherif Ali, Jim's fame becomes so great that some of the natives even report that he carried the cannons singlehandedly on his own back. After this military success, Jim's fame places him in a position where he is expected to settle everything — even divorce cases: "His word decided everything." Jim's victory, we realize, gave him a firm sense of his own worth and value: "Thus he illustrated the moral effect of his victory in war. It was in truth immense."