Significance of the Destination 'Patna' in the Novel Lord Jim

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      The story of Lord Jim originates from the Patna's accident. Without this event, the novel is not expected to be written. The major part of story revolves around the moment when Jim deserted the ship. Thus, this event is the basic idea of the novel and the actual story proceeds from this point onwards.

Jim, as Distinguished from the other White Officers

      We must notice those points that differentiate Jim from the other officers who have left the ship, 'Patna'. After reading the novel carefully, we feel that other white officers' attention was not focused on the safety of 'Patna' pilgrims. They were only thinking of saving their own lives but, on the other hand, Jim was troubled a lot to save the pilgrims. His act of leaving 'Patna' was his compulsion; he wanted to save the pilgrims first but could not get anything to help them out.

      When 'Patna' seemed likely to sink, all the officers got engaged in lowering the life-boat in order to escape. When they asked Jim to help them, Jim flatly refused them and tried to spoil their effort by awakening the sleeping pilgrims. But later on, he realized that the situation would be worse because of the mad rush of the pilgrims. Jim was not willing to join the other white officers but, when he found himself all alone with nothing to perform, he plunged into the life boat. He explained to the court that he had not taken the initiative to escape but merely followed the other officers. Thus Jim's hesitation in escaping through the life boat, and, later on, his sense of guilt differentiated him from others. He possessed a conscience which others lacked completely.

Jim’s Trauma after Leaving 'Patna'

      Another point of distinction between Jim and the other white officers of 'Patna' were their feelings after leaving the ship. Everybody was relieved from the fear of death and were at peace. They were thinking about the way how to explain their act, but Jim, after reconciliation, was feeling guilty. He was facing a great spiritual torture for having left all the pilgrims to their fate. He began to realize that his act was a blunder and he had violated the code of honor. This was a serious breach of duty. He wanted to jump into the sea and swim back to the - ship, in order to save the pilgrims.

      Jim was the only officer who went to the court and faced the trial. He did not want to indulge, once again, in an act of cowardice, thus he faced the trial, though he had been forbidden by Marlow and Brierly, one of the judges of the inquiry. Thus Jim had faced great public disgrace and humiliation in the court. Jim, being romantic and excessively sensitive, took the court's verdict to heart. He was tormented a lot; on the other hand, there was no mention of the plight of the other officers. When the court revoked their certificates, Jim felt himself worthy of nothing. At this point, Marlow came to rescue him and took him along, to the Malabar Hotel. Jim was contemplating suicide but Marlow had successfully tried to procure a job for his rehabilitation.

Jim's Spiritual Agony

      The sense of guilt, disgrace and humiliation was perpetually haunting Jim. He was constantly accompanied by the sense of guilt and dishonor. It was haunting him all the time; and he surpassed it when he went to Patusan, a very remote and distant place. Here he proved his worth, ability, integrity and achieved the place where people began to worship him. But at the end, he became the victim of treachery and fearlessly embraced death in order to fulfill his dream.

To Sum Up

      We see that the desertion of 'Patna' gives birth to the story and steers it to the end. As the novel is the story of Jim's guilt and atonement, it is the 'Patna' issue where this theme has originated from.

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