Detailed Summary of the Novel Lord Jim

Also Read

Jim's Obsession with the Dream of Romantic Hero

      Jim was among the five sons of a clergyman. From the very start of his life, he was interested in a career sea and sea adventures. Later on, he was sent to a training-ship of the mercantile marine. Jim, by nature and temperament, was a day-dreamer; dreaming about his heroic performances, saving people from a sinking ship, or fighting against the savages on the shores of tropics or, facing all kinds of ordeals at sea. He visualized himself as very much devoted to his duty and, like a romantic hero, undauntedly confronting all the dangers of sea-life.

The Inhuman Response of the White-Officers of 'Patna' at the Moment of Its Disaster

      After sometime, Jim was appointed as a chief mate on the ship called 'Patna', sailing from far-eastern port to Middle East, carrying eight hundred Muslim pilgrims. The weather was perfectly quiet and calm but a sudden emergency arose when 'Patna' was struck against a submerged ship. The ship went over it smoothly but a small hole had been created in the ship during the collision. All the pilgrims were sleeping that time and the ship's officers, after acknowledging the intensity of the danger, got involved in saving their own lives by lowering a boat, regardless of the pilgrims' security. There were only seven life-boats with the capacity of carrying just two hundred pilgrims. Thus they found it not good to wake up pilgrims because of the expected state of frenzy. They felt that nothing could be done to save the ship and thus decided to leave 'Patna' to its fate. Jim was against it and much more concerned to save the ship but feeling hopeless, ultimately; he too jumped into the boat. These four officers were rescued by a passing ship and arrived safely at the port. There, they were amazed to see 'Patna' towed and thus, everybody found them disloyal and unfaithful for having abandoned the ship during crisis.

Inquiry Regarding 'Patna'

      An inquiry was held to examine the facts about the 'Patna' episode. All the three officers managed to avoid facing the inquiry and trial but Jim was feeling extremely guilty, and considered his impulsive jump as a sin. Thus he attended court in order to placate his own guilt sense of disgrace. Jim was given the opportunity to escape but he daringly faced the court in order to explain his desertion, not as a preplanned act, but a human instinct to follow the others.

The Court's Verdict and Jim Perpetually Haunted by a Sense of Disgrace and Humiliation

      Jim failed to justify his point because of the lack of any evidence or authentic proof though, he did his best to explain that the safety of the pilgrims, at the time, had weighed upon his mind and he wanted to help them out. Court found all the officers guilty for their neglect of duty and cancelled their certificates and thus, closed their future to hold any post on ship. Jim was feeling much depressed and stressed not only because of the loss of job but on account of much public disgrace and humiliation. Like the court and public, he viewed himself as guilty. Being perpetually haunted by his sense of guilt, his life became a living hell for him.

Marlow's Affection for Jim and His Efforts to Rehabilitate him (Jim)

      Being a sea-captain, Marlow took great interest in the trial and attended the whole inquiry. was impressed by Jim’s personality and more so by his earnest manner perceived during his testimony. Jim fascinated Marlow to such an extent that Marlow came forward to cultivate friendship with Jirn. He felt the need of saving Jim from facing hunger and starvation that was expected to inflict him in his mind. Marlow decided to help him in his rehabilitation, by getting him a job. He recommended Jim to Denver, the owner of a rice mill. Denver was satisfied with Jim's untiring work but Jim left that job because one of the engineers of 'Patna' had joined the same rice-mill. For fear of exposure of the 'Patna' episode and its consequent disgrace, that Jim apprehended, he quit Denver’s rice-mill.

Jim's Mind by Shame, and Guilt and Humiliation

      Marlow messages to find another job for Jim but Jim leaves that as well because of a taunt made by Captain O'Brien over the 'Patna' officers. Thus Jim kept shifting from one job to the other. Now, Marlow decided to rehabilitate Jim at some remote place, far from this world where Jim was facing disgrace and humiliation. He wanted to take Jim away from the place where he was treated as a coward, a condemned man. Jim's mind was much tormented by this kind of thought, he was utterly disappointed and depressed.

German Merchant Stein's Interest in Jim's Rehabilitation

      Marlow consulted his German friend, Stein regarding Jim's job, and Stein, on forming the impression of Jim as a romantic, thought of giving him a chance to do something heroic so that he could fulfill his dreams. Jim should be sent to a place which has ample scope for adventurous and heroic performances and, in this course, he would fulfill his dream and cope with his sense of guilt. Stein suggested to Marlow that Jim should be sent to a place called Patusan, where he had his trading-post. He offered Jim the post of Manager there.

Jim is Sent to Replace Cornelius at Patusan

      Jim had to replace Cornelius who was already a manager there. Cornelius was a half-caste Portuguese, who married a woman whom Stein had high regard, affection and sympathy for. The woman was dead by the time Jim arrived there. She had a daughter. Stein was not satisfied with Cornelius and thus he wanted Jim to replace him.

Jim's Exaltation on Getting a Job at Patusan

      First Marlow thought that it would not be good to send Jim to Patusan where life was not secure due to internal conflicts that often caused violence and slaughter. But now he had to do his duty, thus he had no other alternative but to send Jim there (at Patusan) for sometime. Jim became over-enthusiastic and said that this was the job he always dreamt of. He assured Marlow that he would prove his worth there and would never like to come back from such a place. Marlow thought that Jim should be allowed to go because he would probably forget the stigma and humiliation. Nobody would remind him of that disgraceful incident of 'Patna'.

Jim's Achievements in Patusan

      After arriving at Patusan, Jim faced a lot of trouble. He was imprisoned for a few days under the order of Rajah Allang, one of the chiefs of the three parties in Patusan. After escaping from there, he succeeded in meeting another Chief, Doramin, to whom he had been sent by Stein. He showed a ring given to him by Stein as a token of introduction to Doramin and this chief received him with great warmth and generosity; his wife began to love Jim as her own son. With the passing of time, Jim not only established himself at Patusan but became a highly honorable man. He worked hard with great honesty and thus achieved a position of authority there. Meanwhile, that stigma of disgrace related to 'Patna' started to vanish.

Marlow's Visit to Patusan

      After two years, Marlow paid a visit to Patusan. Jim was very happy to meet Marlow. He told him everything about his life at Patusan and Marlow did not only find Jim happy but proud of his own achievements. Jim informed him that he was loved and trusted by everybody at Patusan.

Jim Assumed to Possess Supernatural Powers

      There were three parties in Patusan and they were hostile to one another. Their mutual antagonism, often caused sudden outbreaks of murder, violence; villages were burnt, people were dragged to be killed. These three parties wanted to eliminate each other. One of the great achievements of Jim was that he fought against Sherif Ali and his party, in a well-planned manner, on behalf of Doramin. Finally, he got success and people of Bugis community began to think of him as someone with supernatural powers. Now Rajah Allang, another chief, had begun to feel terrified because of Jim's victory over Sherif Ali. Doramin now wanted Jim to leave because of his desire to make his son, Dain Waris, the ruler of the whole country.

Jim in Love with Jewel

      Jewel was the stepdaughter of Cornelius whom Jim had replaced. Cornelius often ill-treated this girl as he did her mother. He detested Jim a lot because he had deprived him of his job. Jim and Jewel (the name given by Jim) were deeply in love and Jim had sworn not to leave Jewel. She once saved Jim's life from murder and thus showed her genuine feelings for him. After knowing about their love, Cornelius tried to extract some money out of Jim, through Marlow, but that was in vain. Cornelius was thought to be a real menace and danger to Jim. There was a Malay man, Iamb I tarn, who loved Jim very much and was often by his side as his security guard. When Jewel saw Marlow, she thought that he had come there to take Jim away to his world but Marlow assured her that he had no such intention; he was there just for trading purposes and friendship.

Jim's Trait of Fidelity and Faithfulness

      To Marlow, it seemed that Jim had established himself very well in Patusan. He was loved and honored by everyone. In other words, Jim's fate had been already mastered by him. Then came the moment of Jim and Marlow's parting, and Jim assured Marlow that he would always remain faithful, not only to him, but also to Jewel and to his duty. Marlow, at this time, was reminded of Stein's words that Jim was a romantic and that he should be allowed to remain in the hands of destructive elements. Thus Marlow left Jim and they both knew that they would not meet again. Jim had decided not to leave 'Patusan' and Marlow had no reason to come to Patusan again.

Brown, A Ruffian, Arrived at Patusan

      An illegal element, Brown, unexpectedly arrived at Patusan along with his men to acquire food. He was an English smuggler and a robber. He could not get shelter anywhere because he had committed many crimes. At the time of his arrival, Jim was not there. He had gone into the interior of the country. People got terrified and Rajah Allang's man, Kassim, along with Cornelius, went to meet Brown as an envoy. Cornelius went because he knew good English and could easily communicate with Brown. Their talk had taken a worse turn. Cornelius ingratiates himself with Brown's men and pleads with the latter, to kill Jim.

      He leads the invaders to the position from which they stage their sneak attack on Dain Waris and his men. Tamb Itam stabs him to death in retaliation for the part that he played in the massacre. Cornelius, therefore, is not fortunate enough to remain alive to see Jim's ruin, that he wanted, so desperately. After sometime, Jim is heard to have returned and people went there to greet him and apprise him about everything that happened there.

Jim's Favour in Letting Brown Retreat from Patusan Harmlessly

      Brown started hating Jim the moment he saw him. He seemed too rugged and stubborn to Brown. Brown then asked him if there had been nothing fishy in his own past life. This question forced Jim to think of his act of cowardice and he suddenly turned soft towards Brown. Brown asked Jim to choose between letting him retreat with enough food or come forward to fight. Jim decided to let them retreat because he didn't want to sacrifice any man of the Bugis community on this account and also was not ready to face any blow to his position in Patusan. He influenced Doramin and other members of authority to take a stand on this. Everybody gave their consent because they trusted Jim. Jim, meanwhile, promised the general council of Bugis community to sacrifice his own life if anything went wrong ih letting Brown and his men retreat.

Dain Waris's Death and Murder of Cornelius

      Brown, being devoid of any morals, and swayed by selfish motives, was persuaded by Cornelius to ruin Jim. Brown ordered his men to fire on the men of Dain Waris, who were hidden there, but were forbidden by Jim to harm any man of Brown. When Brown and his men attacked unexpectedly from the narrow channel, all the men of Dain Waris got scattered hither and thither, some jumped into the river, some were shot dead, including Dain Waris. Tamb Itam, who was pretending to be dead on the field, understood the whole situation on seeing Cornelius running madly; he ran behind him and stabbed him. Then, he rushed immediately to inform everything to Jim.

Jim's Different Manner of Providing Power and Authority

      Tamb Itam told Jim everything and suggested him not to come out openly because everybody was thinking him solely responsible for this mis-happening. Jewel told him to fight but Jim, after pondering over the whole situation, came to the decision that he would neither fight nor escape. He resolved something that was, at that time, not known to anybody. Jewel wept over his shoulder and pleaded him not to leave her; but Jim didn't give any reply.

Jim's Murder by Doramin as a Revenge Against the Death of Dain Waris

      Jim bravely went in front of him and took the onus of bringing death to Dain Waris; Doramin raised his hand and fired at him. Next moment, Jim was lying dead.

Previous Post Next Post