Lord Jim: Chapter 2 - Summary & Analysis

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Lord Jim—The Chief Mate of 'Patna'


      After the training period of two years, Jim goes to the sea with exalted notions of bright future prospects but he finds it insipid and monotonous and tiresome. It is strangely barren of adventure; the only reward lies in the perfect love of the work. This reward baffles him but he does not leave because there is nothing more enticing than the life at sea, and the fact that his prospects were good there. He held the responsible post of a fine ship when he was very young, "without ever having been tested by those events of the sea that show in the light of day the inner worth of a man, the edge of his temper, and the fiber of his stuff; that reveal the quality of his resistance and the secret truth of his pretences, not only to others but also to himself."

      Then, because of an accident, he had to frequent the hospital, a number of times, but he does not show that, inwardly, he is happy to be far from the seas and facing the storms.

      When he gets well, he becomes the Chief Mate of the 'Patna', a decayed ship carrying Muslim pilgrims from Bombay to Arab. The ship leans "like a greyhound and eaten up with rust worse than a condemned water-tank." They sail for man days and at last, enter the Red Sea. Though the sea is very calm and placid yet it is too hot.


      The narration continues in the third person. The remarkable point is the resemblance between the following accident of the pilgrim ship, 'Patna' and Conrad's experience of life when he had sailed for Singapore and met a similar destiny. The emphasis is laid on Jim's strong sense of duty and the guilt over his failure.

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