Literature Study GuidesLord JimChapters 24 27 Summary

Lord Jim | Study Guide

Joseph Conrad

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Lord Jim | Chapters 24–27 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 24

Marlow's only visit to Patusan comes two years after Jim takes over the trading post. Stopping at the fishing village of Batu Kring, he learns Jim's arrival initially caused great anxiety. Jim was the first white man many had ever seen, and his inflexible demands to be taken upriver to Patusan were alarming. Such a thing was not done without permission of the rajah, and they couldn't imagine the punishment of doing so without it. Later, Jim's arrival would be seen as a blessing, and he would come to be known as Tuan (Lord) Jim. However, at the time, they hatched a plot out of fear and suspicion to deliver Jim into the hands of the corrupt rajah.

Jim starts upriver in a wobbly, leaky canoe manned by three natives from the village. He sits hour after hour on the tin trunk with the revolver—unloaded—in his lap. Then, unexpectedly, the boatmen bank the canoe and run off, leaving Jim to face a crowd of armed men. Defenseless, Jim calmly asks them to explain the problem and learns the rajah wants to see him.

Recalling these events for the visiting Marlow, Jim states if he had been killed then, "it is this place that would have been the loser." The two men relax outside Jim's house, watching the moon ascend above the chasm between Patusan's twin hills like a "spirit out of a grave." The villagers' houses are "black masses of shadows" lining the still river. Within those houses, Jim confides, he has the trust of every man, woman, and child.

On Patusan, Jim has found what he has been seeking—conquests, trust, fame, friendship, and love. Because he has proved himself so worthy, Marlow has come with a message from his employer. Stein intends to turn over the Patusan house and stock of trading goods entirely to Jim. Deeply moved, Jim stammers out his gratitude for the healing work which had restored his confidence.

Chapter 25

On the ceremonial visit by Jim and Marlow to the filthy hall of Rajah Allang, Jim points out it was here he was imprisoned after his canoe ride up the river. The rajah held him in the courtyard for three days while he and his counselors debated what the white man's sudden appearance meant and what to do with him.

This indecision saves Jim from immediate death, and on the third day, he breaks from his prison, successfully jumping the stockade wall. However, he flounders in a nearby muddy creek and is sure he is done for. Firm higher ground is about six feet away. Finally, with a supreme effort, he wriggles free of the slime and, covered head to toe in mud, runs "like a hunted animal" through the nearby village. The villagers scatter, terrified by the sight of Jim as he swerves between two houses, clambers over a barricade, bursts through a fence, and blunders up a path "into the arms of several startled men." He gasps out, "Doramin! Doramin!" before he collapses. When Jim is brought before Doramin, he produces the ring. The next thing Jim knows, the chief's people are barricading the gate against Rajah Allang's men and someone is pouring water down his throat. He is safe.

Jim describes Doramin as "the chief of the second power in Patusan." His people, the Bugis, are immigrants from Celebes and, as a group, oppose the rajah. Their disputes are over trade, and the rajah burns villages and kills people who dare trade with anyone but him. The only thing curbing the rajah's greed and cruelty is his fear of the organized power of the Bugis men. Adding to the conflict is a third faction on the island led by a wandering Arab half-breed named Sherif Ali. He has incited tribes from Patusan's interior to rise up and lay waste to the open country. Neither Rajah Allang nor Doramin can fathom whose holding Sherif Ali most hopes to plunder. He is "like a hawk over a poultry yard," biding his time.

Chapter 26

In Jim's opinion, Doramin is "one of the most remarkable men of his race" he has ever seen. He is monumental in size with proud eyes and a dignified bearing. He speaks in a powerful murmur, never raising his voice, and moves ponderously, like the physical expression of "a mighty deliberate force." His wife, in contrast, is "light, delicate, spare, quick," and motherly. Late in life, they had a son, "a most distinguished youth," who soon becomes Jim's trusted friend. His name is Dain Waris.

Having found Doramin, produced the ring, and been welcomed into the heart of the Bugis community, Jim sees clearly how the islanders' unrest can be settled. With a great show of leadership, Jim devises a plan and convinces Doramin and his people it can succeed. Dain Waris, the first to believe in the plan, not only trusts Jim but understands him.

To continue the story, Jim takes Marlow up one of the twin summits that dominate Patusan's landscape. "It all started here," he says. Across the way, on the opposite peak, are the charred remains of Sherif Ali's camp—the target of Jim's plan, which had been to destroy it. Using rope cables, Jim explains, a war party "pulled and shoved and sweated" to haul two rusty brass cannons up the hillside. They were unmolested by Sherif Ali, who did not perceive his camp to be in any danger from the Bugis.

Chapter 27

Jim's successful attack on Sherif Ali's stronghold makes him an island legend "gifted ... with supernatural powers." The people trust him unconditionally, and his word decides everything. On the day of the attack, once the cannons are in position, the war party waits in hiding on the hillside below the stockade. At sunrise, the guns go off simultaneously, and the stockade fence explodes into splinters. The war party storms the stronghold with Jim leading and Dain Waris close behind, followed by Jim's servant, Tamb' Itam. There is "a hot five minutes of hand-to-hand inside the stockade," and then someone sets a fire that quickly spreads, forcing everyone to flee.

The rout of Sherif Ali and his men is complete. Dain Waris leads the pursuit while the villagers of Patusan celebrate the victory with gongs and drums. For Jim, the moment is summed up in the word "immense." While a victory for the villagers, it is also a personal triumph. He has been decisive and has stood firm, has earned the trust of men and regained belief in himself, and has achieved it all on his own. Marlow notes this "total and utter isolation" adds to his stature, as "there was nothing within sight to compare him with." Word of his greatness does not spread through brash and brazen trumpeting, but quietly "with wonder and mystery on the lips of whispering men."

Analysis

Beginning with Jim's arrival in Patusan, the chronology of events is more easily followed, and Jim's tale becomes more like the adventure stories he treasures. These chapters cover Jim's imprisonment by Rajah Allang, his escape to Doramin's encampment, the alliance with the Bugis chief, and the planning and execution of a daring plan to defeat Sherif Ali.

Marlow hears the tale start-to-finish nearly two years later when Jim is firmly established in his new life on Patusan. Retelling it, Marlow begins with Jim's trip up the river in the leaky dugout. In front of Jim stands the fresh start, the clean slate, he has been looking for. The future is his to write. Marlow describes this opportunity in terms of a "veiled Eastern bride" riding at his side in the canoe. What she looks like is a mystery to be discovered by the groom who unveils her.

As Marlow listens to Jim recount his attack on Sherif Ali, Conrad uses figurative language that likens the rising moon and Jim's victory to "an ascending spirit out of a grave." Briefly, Jim appears to Marlow as solid and stalwart. He sees him clearly in this "moment of immobility." It is a picture of Jim at the peak of his success. Still, Marlow perceives, "all these things that made him master had made him a captive, too." On Patusan, Jim's steadfast belief in his heroic potential has been confirmed. It is a potential, however, tied to this land and its people.

Jim's daring escape from Rajah Allang involves yet another unplanned leap into the unknown. In contrast to his damning leap from the Patna, this jump leads him to freedom, safety, and a new start in Doramin's camp. It is symbolically a spiritual leap out of the moral abyss into which his first jump landed him.

To tell the next part of his story, Jim takes Marlow up the hillside opposite the destroyed stockade. To Marlow, as he listens, Jim appears larger than life. Standing on the hilltop, "high in the sunshine," Jim seems to have "dominated the forest, the secular gloom, the old mankind." On this remote island just emerging "from the original dusk" of its being, he is a symbol of power and timeless virtues. Nevertheless, the memory of Jim's weakness foreshadows future problems like "a shadow in the light."

In describing the day of the battle, Jim mentions Doramin, who is seated on the hillside in an armchair, "a pair of immense flintlock pistols on his knees." These pistols were a gift from Stein in exchange for the ring, and they once belonged to Alexander McNeil, the old Scotsman who gave Stein his business start. Here their appearance foreshadows tragedy, as one of them will put an end to Jim's life.

After the battle, the resounding success of Jim's plan earns him the trust of the people of Patusan. The villagers revere him and "his word decide[s] everything." The disgraced first mate of the Patna is now the venerated Tuan Jim.

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