Narrate Jim's Family Background in the Novel Lord Jim

Also Read

Jim's Antecedents

      Jim belonged to a family of parsons. This was great advantage for Jim because most of the commanders of fine merchant ships were also from parsonages. Jim's father, being a parson, had vast knowledge of religion and he was capable of inspiring men to be virtuous and righteous. Jim was among the five sons of the parson. After schooling, he was sent to sea and got attached to a training-ship of the mercantile marine. Jim had an excellent physique thus he become an expert in keeping watch from the fore-top of the ship. Jim was temperamentally a romantic and, during his training period, we see him visualizing himself as a hero, unflinching and fearless in the ordeals of sea life, saving people from drowning, confronting savages on tropical shores etc.

Jim's Apprehension about his Father's Reaction to the 'Patna' Issue

      Jim was well aware of his father's aspiration about himself. His father had nourished high hopes about his future. Jim was more distressed after the trial and verdict of the court because he felt that, those high hopes of his father had crumbled after his act of cowardice (plunging into a lifeboat to save his own life and violating the code of honor). Jim did not feel like going back to the family and pursuing some other job. He was not ready to face his father because of shame. He was sure about the fact that the case of 'Patna' must have been read by his father in some newspaper. He said, "He has seen it all in the home papers by this time". He further said to Marlow, "I can never face the old poor chap." Because his father had "fancied" him and now he must be feeling utterly disappointed and hopeless because his ambitions, related to Jim, had been dashed to the ground. Jim felt that if he would try to explain himself, his father "wouldn't understand" his point. Thus he did not expect any sympathy from his father after his justification of 'Patna' incident.

Mental Agony of Jim Aggravated by Thoughts of Father

      Thus Jim's feeling of regret and hopelessness was intensified by Jim's antecedents. He faced much public disgrace and the thought of how his family would consider his act of 'Patna' and the court's verdict, was unbearable for him. It is quite obvious that his father was a parson, an abode of piety and deep religious feelings and he would be badly hurt on getting the news of Jim's act of cowardice and the court's verdict. Thus, he was spiritually tormented and frustrated.

Marlow's Mention of the Last Letter of Jim's Father

      Marlow, in his letter to the 'privileged listener', gave the information about Jim's last letter that he had received from his father. Jim's father had written this affectionate letter a few days before Jim had joined 'Patna' as her Chief-Mate. From this letter, it appeared that Jim's father had "fancied" his sailor-son. This letter was profused with love and affection. His father, in the letter, had urged his son not to judge anybody "harshly and hastily". This letter contained some family news also. "Tom had taken orders". Carrie's husband had 'money losses'. He hopes his 'dear James' will never forget that 'who once gives way to temptation, in the very instant hazards his total depravity and everlasting ruin. Therefore resolve fixedly never, through any possible motives, to do anything which you believe to be wrong. There is also some news of a favorite dog; and a pony, 'which all you boys used to ride', had gone blind from old age and had to be shot. The old chap invokes Heaven’s blessing; the mother and all the girls then at home send their love

Deep Influence of Father's Belief on Jim

      Jim's actions and reactions were, indeed, molded by his father's beliefs and teachings. This was the reason why Jim only had taken the 'Patna' issue to his heart and suffered a lot spiritually; he was perpetually haunted by his guilt, public disgrace and humiliation. He was not like the rest of 'Patna's white officers. He was very- sensitive and conscious of his act. It was the impact of his family that he did not hesitate, rather fearlessly sacrificed himself and embraced death.

Previous Post Next Post