Lord Jim

Lord Jim Summary and Analysis of Chapters 28-33

Past events are now referred to in passing. Sherif Ali, one of Doramin's competitors and an ally of the Rajah, was defeated and then fled. Old scores were settled. The Rajah reacted with fear. All felt confidence in Jim's wisdom. Marlow then describes how Doramin and his wife begin to ask him questions about Jim. Doramin is anxious; in his opinion, and perhaps thinking about Stein, white men have a tendency to come and go. Doramin's wife asks Marlow about Jim's past: is there anyone for him to return to, perhaps a mother who yearns to see him? This query brings Marlow, in his narration, to the story of Jim's love.

Cornelius's deceased wife had left a daughter (whose father is left unnamed). The mother had not been an ordinary woman; her white father was a high official. Jim and the woman's daughter come to share mutual intimacy; Jim refers to her as "Jewel." This name leads Marlow to comment on how he pieced a puzzle together, recalling how, 230 miles south of Patusan, he had heard a rumor of how a young man in Patusan had discovered an extraordinarily priceless emerald that could only be concealed on a woman who was young and insensible to the seductions of love.

Jewel's mother had taught her English and, according to Marlow, she spoke it having absorbed Jim's own manner of speaking. He observes that Jim was "jealously loved" (214). Marlow then reports seeing Cornelius for the first time. Tamb' Itam points him out, and Marlow notes that he is a slinking, dark, unsavory type, like a "repulsive beetle" (214). His presence seemed the one blemish on Jim's charmed life. Jim had discovered that Cornelius had embezzled from Stein's company, kept poor records, and left the house is disrepair, all the while blaming his dead wife for the failures. Jim felt deep sympathy for the girl whose mother had died and who had to suffer Cornelius's insults. The girl had said she would have killed him with her own hands, if she hadn't seen how wretched he was. This statement, for Jim, hinted at a complexity in her character that impressed him. Cornelius, eager to be rid of Jim, offered to smuggle him out of the area for a price, since it was widely known that the Rajah wanted him killed. Jim didn't respond. Later that very night, however, he arrived at a plan for overcoming Sherif Ali, and the girl proved useful in providing the necessary background information about Patusan affairs. When Cornelius again offered to help him out of Patusan, Jim stated his intention to remain. Cornelius responded that, then, Jim would die here.

Jim gives a speech in favor of "vigorous action" to the principal men of the community where Jim had been persuasive and eloquent, stirring the passions roused by Sherif Ali's last raid (some of the women had been carried off, and men haunted the marketplace wearing white cloaks, creating a general terror). That night, Jim had a dream, a great voice from the heavens commanding that he "Awake!" He did wake and see the flame of a torch and the girl holding it, in a white gown, with her long black hair. Jewel insisted that he get up, that there was a plan in place for his murder that night. Marlow reminds his audience then that this is a love story, and Jim admits to the strength of his emotion at the time: "that if I went away from her it would be the end of everything somehow" (225). Jim then sensed that his assassins were near and, in the end, killed a man. The three others surrendered.

The conclusion of this story is that Jim ordered the three would-be assassins to jump into the water. Jim then turns to Marlow and says that he loves the girl. The fact that his existence was necessary for another person provided a wonderful feeling. The community believed he was brave, true, and just. He was happy. Marlow then tells Jim that he will always be a mystery amongst them; he will never be fully known. This is almost a warning, but Jim replies that this situation is exactly what he wants.

Later in the night, Jewel approaches Marlow and seems to ask for an assurance from him that Jim will never leave her. She tells Marlow that her mother had warned her of such things before she died. Marlow was, himself, a signal of that Unknown from which Jim had come, so she hoped to learn something of it from him. Marlow, touched by the girl's delicate charm, tells her that it is not his intention to ask Jim to leave, and that Jim wouldn't leave anyway. Jewel says that she does not want to die weeping like her mother. She senses a strong feeling of dread, and Marlow is then strangely brutal to her. He tells her that Jim will never leave Patusan because he is "not good enough" for the world outside. The girl says that Jim said the same thing, and she protests, sobbing. She claims that Marlow is lying, and Marlow, regretful, says, "nobody is good enough." She exits.


As the political situation in Patusan is elaborated, Jim's integral role in the defeat of Sherif Ali and his trustworthiness bring him the acclaim and status he has always sought. The intelligence of the plan proves his good judgment, and its execution proves his ability and loyalty. In the end, Dain Waris saves Jim's life, in the same way that Stein had saved Dain Waris's father's life. This parallelism does not exclude the possibility that a kind of reversal could take place: though Jim and Stein share a characteristic romanticism, events may work in the reverse for Jim compared to how they worked for Stein. At this point, however, Marlow observes the success Jim has made out of his opportunity.

The character Cornelius is more intensely drawn through Marlow's eyes, who sees him immediately as a "blemish." This corrupt presence in the midst of Jim's romantic life yields a sense of instability for the reader in that Cornelius, with his bitter loss of standing, as well as his general decrepit state, promises ill will for future events. Jim, however, like Jewel, considers him to be a sad wretch, not really worth worrying over or expending the energy to punish. This proves later to be a mistake of judgment on Jim's part. While so many aspects of his life in Patusan have been exquisitely assessed and judged and then acted upon, Jim's assessment of Cornelius becomes a mistake that will unravel his life with disastrous consequences.

When Jim's love story is introduced, the reader recalls the mysterious reference made by Stein to a Malay-Dutch woman who had died. The daughter of this woman is the one who becomes Jim's lover. The two share, among other things, in having isolated positions in the community. It is unclear whether Jewel is her real name or merely the name that Jim gives her. In any case, the allusion to Adam's naming of Eve is made clear. It is fitting that Jewel, in this romantic setting, completes Jim's fair picture of the charmed life with a beautiful girl. The girl herself attains the status of myth, like Jim. Jim protects the fabulous, enormous emerald he has found; she is his precious jewel.

Thus Jewel represents what women in the novel symbolize generally. Women tend to function as symbols of opportunity, in the sense that romantic Western men seek to wed their dreams to the reality of the Eastern landscape. Hence, a relationship with a girl from the East symbolizes the realization of the man's dreams. Stein had accomplished this wedding in actually having married a Malay princess. The suggestion here is that Jim will do the same with Jewel. Her mother's tragic end in life, however, foreshadows the sorrows that will fall over Jewel. The East-West romance, once realized, does not promise to be sustainable. It is, more often than not, untenable.

Jewel's love for Jim, in Marlow's observation, is a "jealous" love, not unlike the way he has described the community's love for Jim. Jim has become such an integral part of the community, as well as of Jewel's life, that the fear of being without him implies overdependence. They absorb him, in the way that Jewel absorbs even Jim's manner of speech. During the private conversation between Marlow and Jewel, Marlow seems jealous himself--of Jim's youth, of his success, and of this girl. This jealousy may explain why he brutally shares with Jewel the idea that Jim isn't good enough for the world beyond Patusan.

Regretfully, however, Marlow then revises his statement, showing that what was an initial passion of judgment can also be equally applied to all men: that "nobody is good enough." In other words, the romantic ideals of honor and manhood are not really possible for anyone, in view of man's countless imperfections. This reflection suggests, on the one hand, a general solidarity between Jim and the rest of the world and, on the other hand, Jim's distinct choice to go to a special place where he might possibly be able to achieve the ideal after all.