Lord Jim Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Lord Jim

After a public naval disgrace disbars him from being a sailor anymore, Jim becomes the head of a remote trading station in the East Indies and ultimately has to come to terms with what his position of authority over the local natives actually means, and requires. Jim grew up on tales of the sea. He always wanted nothing more than to be a heroic sailor exploring the world's vast oceans, so when he gets his seaman's certificate and a posting on the Patna, a ship ferrying Muslim pilgrims up and down the Red Sea, he believes this is the beginning of a wonderful new life. But an accidental collision at sea changes everything. The Patna starts to take on water. Jim and the crew, believing that the ship is sinking, cowardly abandon the ship, leaving the Patna's hundreds of passengers behind.
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To compound matters, the ship does not in fact sink. After a few days Jim and the crew are fished out of the water and the Patna is towed into a nearby port. An inquest into the crew's action is held, but the captain flees and soon so does most of the crew, leaving Jim to face punishment alone. For his cowardice, his seaman's certificate is revoked, barring him from official work on any British ship. Jim is shattered, but even worse than losing this certificate is the awareness that he might not possess the heroic qualities he always believed he had. Here was a situation where he could have played the hero, but instead he fled to save himself.

Marlow (the protagonist/narrator of HEART OF DARKNESS, among other Conrad works) encounters Jim soon after and finds himself sympathizing with the young ex-sailor. Marlow, with his extensive contacts, offers to find Jim work. Since Jim refuses to return to England, or any populated area where his disgrace might be known, Marlow gets him posted to a series of trading stations scattered throughout the South Sea.

At each new location, though, just as Jim starts to thrive and carve out his own little niche, word of the Patna disgrace catches up to him and Jim flees. This pattern persists for some time, with Jim finding work at increasingly remote locations in his attempt to outrun his past. Finally, Jim becomes trading post chief at Patusan, one of the most remote stations in Indonesia. At it seems that he has finally left his disgrace behind for good.

He is fair and respectful of the indigenous locals, and in time earns the title of "Lord" in the native dialect. He even overthrows a local warlord, who had been terrorizing the nearby village for some time. Jim settles into this new life. He takes a wife from among the natives and believes at last that he has found his home.

But into this idyllic life comes Gentleman Brown, a British criminal who has gotten his hands on a ship and has taken to marauding in the East Indies. Low on supplies, though, he is desperate for a new target and happens upon Lord Jim's natives. After some bloody skirmishes, Jim meets with Brown and appears to persuade him to leave. The natives believe in their "Lord" and drop their guard.

Gentleman Brown, though, isn't finished. He only pretends to leave. When he returns in a full-blown assault, the natives are taken entirely by surprise. They drive him off, but at great cost, including the death of the village chief's eldest son. Jim feels his disgrace washing him over again. He has betrayed the natives' trust and takes the final step to alleviate this shame. Jim, in penitence, goes to the chief and has him put a bullet in Jim's heart. This is his final heroic act, and the ultimate exculpation of his guilt.
Best part of story, including ending: Nobody can transform these late-colonial settings into powerfully mythic landscapes quite like Conrad, and LORD JIM is no exception.

Best scene in story: The final scene where Jim accepts responsibility for all his sins, for the guilt of an entire life, and bares himself to the chief for execution is as powerful as it sounds.

Opinion about the main character: Jim is a highly believable young man with a penchant for adventure. Nurtured on heroic tales and self-aggrandizement, he learns in a devastatingly accurate way how hollow these fictions are and how difficult real heroism actually is.

The review of this Book prepared by Joe Chavez a Level 6 Elegant Trogon scholar

In Lord Jim, an english sailor has to deal with the aftermath of a poor decision. He abandons what he thinks is a sinking ship, loaded with passengers, but soon discovers that it never sank. He has to deal with white society's opinions. He finally escapes to a Pacific island where he finds happiness, although his past does catch up to him.
The review of this Book prepared by Amanda Van Laarhoven

Chapter Analysis of Lord Jim

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   1600-1899 Ethnic/Regional/Religion    -   Tiny Pacific Islands Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Struggle over    -   actions leading to death of someone Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Ethnic/regional/gender life    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   navy soldier Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   British


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   6 () Asia/Pacific    -   Yes Asian country:    -   Southeast Asia    -   Pacific Islands Island?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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