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MonkeyNotes-Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
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Chapter 21

Summary

Marlow starts the second part of Jim's story with a description of Patusan, an extremely isolated island in Malaya that is controlled by warring forces. Patusan has a trading post owned by Stein and presently managed by Cornelius, a cunning, dishonest, and wretched man. Stein wants to send Jim to Patusan to replace Cornelius. When Marlow tells Jim the plan, he does not express his feelings, but it is quite clear that he likes the idea.

Marlow then flashes forward two years. He goes to visit Jim in Patusan and is delighted to see how well his friend is doing as the resident manager of the outpost. It is obvious that Jim feels successful; he has mastered his self-defeating romanticism.


Notes

The choice of Patusan as Jim's place of rehabilitation is significant. It is an island so remote that most merchants do not even know about it. It offers the perfect setting for Jim to be able to live without fear of discovery; here there will be no mention of the Patna.

The description of Patusan is beautiful. It is a small island divided by a valley separating two hills facing each other. The fissure between the hills symbolizes the split in Jim's being, his romantic side vs. his real side. The setting of the Patusan isle also has a symbolic meaning. The fissured hill with the moon floating out of the chasm is the symbol of Jim's fate; he is to be lonely and separated not only from his own kind but also from his own self. But he will leave his earthly failings behind and start afresh in this unearthly place.

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