Lord Jim: Chapter 6 - Summary & Analysis

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Brierly's Suicide and Cur as a Bond Maker between Marlow and Jim


      The inquiry continues with its proceedings despite the absence of all the white officers except Jim. Marlow says that they are not interested to inquire "the state of man's soul" but the superficial 'how' and 'why'.

      Captain Brierly is one of the judges and here Marlow gives an account of his character and life. "Brierly is a striking personality, sober self-assured, confident, arrogant and self-centered" who has been enjoying a great luck, being a seaman, without any mishap and blow to his excellent position. He goes through a strain of agony by putting himself in Jim's place. He offers 200 rupees to help Jim to escape. Marlow now explains that Jim is voluntarily surrendering himself to the trial. Now Marlow plunges into the future and explains Brierly's suicide that he made very careful preparation and jumped into the sea when he was not noticed by anybody. The cause of his suicide is not explained.

      Now Marlow comes back from the future. He further says that when Jim was coming out of the courtroom, a yellow car was seen there and a man with Marlow says, "look at the wretched cur." Jim cursed him and gets furious at being called a cur but feels embarrassed on learning that he is not being called a cur. He immediately wants to leave the sight but Marlow grips him and, after talking to him, Marlow realizes that Jim is very sensitive, very sad, although he does
not let anyone know it. Marlow invites him and takes him along to the Malabar hotel.


      The narration, especially in connection with Mr. Brierly, does not follow chronological order. It moves backward and forward, looks into the future story of Brierly's suicide and comes back to the continuation of the normal proceeding of the story. Brierly's character is introduced to add special flavor to Jim's personality. Brierly commits suicide because he identifies himself with Jim's shame and disgrace. A most interesting and major theme of Conrad is a sudden recognition of brotherhood existing between men in foreign places. Jim's decision to face the court may be regarded as a self-imposed torture because he had the opportunity to escape but he does not prefer to do so. The cur, as a bond-maker between Jim and Marlow, seems comical but very close to practical life.

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