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MonkeyNotes-Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
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Chapter 19

Summary

Jim continues to jump from place to place, as his secret shame chases him. It seems that everybody knows about the Patna, and as soon as it is mentioned, Jim bolts. Marlow refers to the young man as a "rolling stone."

Jim stays in Bangkok for some time, and Schomberg, the keeper of the hotel there, calls him a very nice fellow. Unfortunately, he gets into a brawl. He plays a game of billiards with a Danish lieutenant of the Royal Siamese Navy, who has too much to drink. The Dane makes an ugly comment about Jim's being on the Patna. Jim loses control, knocks the lieutenant out, and throws him into the river. At midnight after the brawl, Jim meets Marlow on board his ship. He says he is sorry that he had knocked the man out, but he had no other option.

After this incident, everyone seems to turn against Jim, even Schomberg. Marlow could not bear to leave his friend in such a hostile atmosphere, so he takes Jim away from Bangkok on his ship. As they travel, Jim seems to recoil within himself, rarely speaking. Marlow realizes Jim's frustration and knows that he needs a challenge. One day while Marlow and Jim are standing alone, Marlow inquires if he would like to go to another part of the world. Jim smiles for the first time in many days; but he remarks that it would probably not make much difference. He knows he cannot run away from himself. Marlow realizes Jim needs to prove himself again.

Marlow goes to consult Stein, a wealthy and respected merchant whose hobby is entomology and whose specialty is beetles and butterflies. Marlow knows he can depend on Stein, who will help if he can, for he is trustworthy, intelligent, kind, and good-natured. He discusses Jim and his problems with his friend, for Marlow is hoping that Stein will be able to offer Jim a worthy job, one that he can be proud of performing.


Notes

Jim can find no peace. No matter where he goes, he hears about the Patna incident and his guilt and shame cause him to flee. Conrad tells of three different incidents that occur in three different settings, far apart, but there were obviously many more. In each one, Jim reveals that his tolerance is declining. At first he only runs away from people who talk about the Patna; then he begins to fight them. When Jim knocks out the Dane and throws him in the river, it is the only time in the novel that Jim is not acting like "one of us." Conrad's skill in dramatizing Jim's story is seen clearly here. The chapter depicts Jim haunted by his past, the memory of his cowardice. Marlow sympathizes with his plight and is determined to help Jim.

Stein, the wise man of the novel, is introduced in this chapter. Marlow goes to him, hoping he will give Jim a job that will challenge him and take his mind off his guilt. Stein understands Jim's problem and becomes instrumental in bringing about a change in Jim's life.

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