Literature: Lord Jim

Lord Jim is the companion novel to Heart of Darkness written by Joseph Conrad. It is the story of an idealistic Englishman who believes that his cowardice while serving as an officer on the pilgrim ship Patna has ruined his life. He later finds his way to an obscure island outpost of Patusan where he is able to rebuild his life and reclaim some honor. However, the ghosts of Jim's past comes back to haunt him when greedy adventurer Gentleman Brown arrives and plots to steal from Jim's profitable little paradise...

This novel contains examples of:

  • The Atoner: What drives Jim during the second half of the novel. It's why he works to free the local Bugis community from their corrupt overlords and gains their respect hence the nickname Lord Jim. Unfortunately, that need to atone becomes a problem when Gentleman Brown shows up and sees how he can exploit Jim's one flaw...
  • The Chief's Daughter: Actually, Jim becomes friends with the Chief's son, while Jim gets paired with a regular mixed-blood local girl.
  • Downer Ending
  • Honor Before Reason: Jim has a chance to flee in the aftermath of Gentleman Brown's raid, but refuses and goes back to the Bugis' community to answer for the death of his friend Dain Waris.
  • Ironic Name: Gentleman Brown. He's nothing of the kind.
  • Jumped at the Call: Viciously deconstructed. Jim is described as a young man looking for the opportunity to be a hero. The novel details how that desire destroys him both when he fails during the Patna disaster and when he succeeds on Patusan.
  • Mighty Whitey: Deconstructed.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: What happens to Jim when he finds out the Patna and its Muslim passengers survived the accident that made him and the crew jump ship. It's the same response he develops when he finds out the cost of dealing with Gentleman Brown, leading to Jim's tragic end.
  • Mysterious Past: Jim moves to the island of Patusan where his past can remain anonymous. It still haunts him to his death.
  • The Narrator: Marlow from Heart of Darkness shows up during Jim's trial over the Patna incident. He keeps tabs with Jim over the course of the story and is the one who helps him get his job on Patusan.
  • Noble Savage: Deconstructed as well.
  • Pink Elephants
  • Promoted to Scapegoat: What happens to Jim as the responsibility for the Patna fiasco gets dumped onto him by the ship's captain and higher-ranking officers. Made worse by the fact that he readily accepts the fault of others' as his own.
  • Survivor Guilt: INTENSELY played throughout the novel, even when it turns out that Jim really wasn't guilty of anything.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The novel starts off as a standard Third Person Narration, but switches to Marlow's narration POV when he shows up in Jim's life. It works in this novel because it keeps Jim as an cipher of a protagonist throughout the remainder of the story.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The incident of the SS Jeddah, and the scandal following it, provided Conrad the basis for this novel. The Other Wiki has more.
  • What You Are in the Dark
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Jim in the beginning. He's still an idealist at the end, but it means he's willing to go back and die for it.