, in the midst of certitude, danger lurks, that peace and contentment are at the mercy of the whirl of the world, are inescapable conditions of human existence. These daunting dichotomies, as we find them depicted in Lord Jim, are forever teasing and testing humans in their life-journey Conrad sees these dichotomies in the unfolding spectacle of man and nature. To evince the enormous power of this process Conrad chooses to render time in a continuum which fills all space. Time has no end, no telos; it absorbs beginnings and endingsthe past, present, and future not only in their connections but also in their disconnections.
Conrads spatial technique is no less complex, and no less revealing, than his use of time. Hence, he employs spatial dimension so as to highlight Jims sense of guilt in jumping from the Patna
Conrad expresses it in his Authors Note, is Jims burden of fate. And wherever he retreats he is open to attack from some "deadly snake in every bush." Time as memory and place as torment become his twin oppressors.
The specificities of the Patna episode were to come out during a well-attended Official Court of Inquiry that takes place for several days in early August 1883. Most of the details, in the form of remarks and commentaries, are supplied by Marlow in his long oral narrative, especially as these emerge from Jims own confession to Marlow when they happen to meet after the proceedings, on the yellow portico of the Malabar House [13, 178]. Humiliated and broken, his certificate revoked, his career destroyed, Jim can never return to his home and face his father"I could never explain. He wouldnt understand." Again and again, in his confession, Jim shows feelings of desperation and even hysteria: "Everything had betrayed him!" For him it is imperative to be identified neither with the "odious and fleshly" German skipper, Gustav, "the incarnation of everything vile and base that lurks in the world we love," nor with the chief and the second engineers, "skunks" who are extensions of the captains coarseness and cowardice.
But that, in fact, Jim does jump overboard"a jump into the unknown"and in effect joins them in deserting the Patna ultimately agonizes his moral sense and impels him to scrutinize that part of his being in which the element of betrayal has entered. By such an action he feels contaminated, unclean, disgraced. How to separate himself morally from the captain and his engineers is still another cruel question to which he must find an answer. In this respect, Jim reminds us of the tragic heroes in ancient Greek drama whose encounters with destiny entail both risks and moral instruction. "We begin to live," Conrad reminds us, "when we have conceived life as a tragedy."
How does one "face the darkness"? How does one behave to the unknowable? These are other basic questions that vex Jim. He wants, of course, to answer these questions affirmatively, or at least to wrestle with them in redeeming ways, even as he appears to see himself within a contradictionas one who can have no place in the universe once he has failed to meet the standards of his moral code. Refusing to accept any "helping hand" extended to him to "clear out," he decides to "fight this thing down," to expiate his sin, in short, to suffer penitently the agony of his failure: "He had loved too well to imagine himself a glorious racehorse, and now he was condemned to toil without honour like a costermongers donkey." Jims innermost sufferings revolve precisely around his perception of his loss of honor, of his surrender to cowardice. The crushing shame of this perception tortures Jim, without respite. "I had jumpedhadnt I? he asked [Marlow], dismayed. Thats what I had to live down."
Jims moral sense is clearly outraged by his actions. This outrage wracks his high conception of himself, compelling him in The "idyllic time to see himself outside of his reveries that Conrad also associates with "the determination to lounge safely through existence." What clouds Jims fate is that such a net of safety and certitude has no sustained reality. Within the serenity that seemed to bolster his thoughts of "valorous deeds" there are hidden menaces that assault his self-contentment and self-deception and abruptly awaken Jim to his actual condition and circumstances [13, 186]. In one way, it can be said, Jim is a slave of the "idyllic imagination" (as Irving Babbitt calls it), with its expansive appetites, chimeras, reveries, pursuit of illusion. Jims is the story of a man who comes to discern not only the pitfalls of this imagination but also the need to free himself from its bondage. But to free himself from bondage requires of Jim painstaking effort, endurance. He must work diligently to transform chimeric, if incipient, fortitude into an active virtue as it interacts with a world that, like the Patna, can be "full of reptiles"a world in which "not one of us is safe."
Conrad uses Jim to indicate the moral process of recovery. Conrad delineates the paradigms of this process as these evolve in the midst of much anguish and laceration, leading to the severest scrutiny and judgment of the total human personality. Jim pays attention, in short, to the immobility of his soul; it will take much effort for him to determine where he is and what is happening to him if he is to emerge from the "heart of darkness" and the affliction within and around him to face what is called "the limiting moment." It is, in an inherently spiritual context, a moment of repulsion when one examines the sin in oneself, and hates it. His sense of repulsion is tantamount to moral renunciation, as he embarks on the path to recovery from the romantic habit of daydreaming.
In the end Jim comes to despise his condition, acceding as he Moral does to the moral imperative. He accepts the need to see his
imperative to "trouble" as his own, and he instinctively volunteers to answer questions regarding the Patna by appearing before the Official Court of Inquiry "held in the police court of an Eastern port." (This actually marks his first encounter with Marlow, who is in attendance and who seems to be sympathetically aware of "his hopeless difficulty.") He gives his testimony fully, objectively, honestly, as he faces the presiding magistrate. The physical details of Jims appearance underscore his urge "to go on talking for truths sake, perhaps for his own sake""fair of face, big of frame, with young, gloomy eyes, he held his shoulders upright above the box while his soul writhed within him." Marlows reaction to Jim is instinctively positive: "I liked his appearance; he came from the right place; he was one of us." In striking ways, Jim is a direct contrast to the other members of "the Patna gang": "They were nobodies," in Marlows words [13, 192].
It should be recalled here that Jim adamantly refused to help the others put the lifeboat clear of the ship and get it into the water for their escape. Indeed, as Jim insists to Marlow, he wanted to keep his distance from the deserters, for there was "nothing in common between him and these men." Their frenzied, self-serving actions to abandon the ship and its human cargo infuriated Jim"I loathed them. I hated them." The scene depicting the abandonment of the Patna is one filled with "the turmoil of terror," dramatizing the contrast between Jim and the other officers between honor and dishonor, loyalty and disloyalty, in short, between aspiration and descent on the larger metaphysical map of human behavior. Jim personifies resistance to the negative as he tries to convey to Marlow "the brooding rancour of his mind into the bare recital of events." Jims excruciating moral effort not to join the others and to ignore their desperate motions is also pictured at a critical moment when he felt the Patna dangerously dipping her bows, and then lifting them gently, slowly"and ever so little."
The reality of a dangerous situation now seems to be devouring Jim, as he was once again to capitulate to the inner voice of weakness and doubt telling him to "leap" from the Patna. Futility hovers ominously around Jim at this last moment when death arrives in the form of a third engineer "clutch[ing] at the air with raised arms, totter[ing] and collapsing]." A terrified, transfixed Jim finds himself stumbling over the legs of the dead man lying on the bridge. And from the lifeboat below three voices yelled out eerily"one bleated, another screamed, one howled"imploring the man to jump, not realizing of course that he was dead of a heart attack: "Jump, George! Jump! Oh, jump. . . . Well catch you! Jump! . . . Geo-o-o-orge! Oh, jump!" This desperate, screeching verbal command clearly pierces Jims internal condition of fear and terror, just as the ship again seemed to begin a slow plunge, with rain sweeping over her "like a broken sea." And once again Jim is unable to sustain his refusal to betray his idea of honor. Here his body and soul are caught in the throes of still another "chance missed."
The assaults of nature on Jims outer situation are as vicious at this pivotal point of his life as are the assaults of conscience on his moral sense. These clashing outer and inner elements are clearly pushing Jim to the edge, as heroic aspiration and human frailty wrestle furiously for the possession of his soul. What happens will have permanent consequences for him, as Conrad reveals here, with astonishing power of perception [12, 93]. Here, then, we discern a process of co