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Lord Jim is filled with symbolism. Since much of the book centers on good vs. evil, the characters become symbolic. The Patna crew, Holy Terror Robinson, Tungku Allang, Kassim, Sherif Ali, Cornelius, and Brown are all symbols of evil. By contrast, Marlow and Stein are symbols of goodness, representing the basic values of life. Stein stands for idealism, reflection, kindness, and practical ability. Marlow is a symbol of the penetrating mind which judges, interprets and illuminates. Jim, the central figure, is the most important symbolic figure. He symbolizes the lofty idealist and dreamer who is torn by the darkness of guilt.
Closely related to good vs. evil, light and darkness become important symbols. These accord with a color ideology, which comes out of white supremacy. Light is a source of vision, and anything that obstructs vision is a form of darkness, including fog, rain, water, jungle. White symbolizes purity, goodness and cleanliness. Jim and Jewel are always in white. Black, on the other hand, symbolizes evil, death, and dark deeds. The color black is used with special symbolic significance throughout the chapters describing the Patna affair.
Actions also take on symbolic meaning. Jim's "jumping" become the structure of the plot. His first jump from the Patna becomes a leap into darkness and fear -- into a life plagued with guilt and shame. Jim then jumps into the mystery of Patusan, equally as frightening as his jump into the dark ocean. The second jump, however, prepares him for his final jump into death, where he redeems himself.