Humanity in J. Conrad's and W. Somerset's creativity

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ill now be subject to attack by invaders of "undisguised ruthlessness" who would leave Patusan "strewn over with corpses and enveloped in flames." If Jims inner world, in the first part of the novel, is in turmoil, it is the outer world, in the second part of the novel, that is collapsing "into a ruin reeking with blood." What we hear in the concluding five chapters of Lord Jim is the braying voice of universal discord, crying out with a merciless conviction that, between the men of the Bugis nation living in Patusan and the white marauders, "there would be no faith, no compassion, no speech, no peace."

The last word of the story of Jims life is reserved for one of Marlows earlier listeners, "the privileged man," who receives a thick packet of handwritten materials, of which an explanatory letter by Marlow is the most illuminating. A narrative in epistolary form provides us, two years following the completion of Marlows oral narrative, with the details of the last episode that had "come" to Jim. What Marlow has done is to fit together the fragmentary pieces of Jims "astounding adventure" so as to record "an intelligible picture" of the last year of his life [15, 218]. The epistolary narrative here is based on the exploit of "a man called Brown," upon whom Marlow happened to come in a wretched Bangkok hovel a few hours before Brown died. The latter was thus to volunteer information that helped complete the story of Jims life, in which Brown himself played a final and fatal role.

The son of a baronet, Brown is famous for leading a "lawless life." He is "a latter-day buccaneer," known for his "vehement scorn for mankind at large and for victims in particular." We learn that he hung around the Philippines in his rotten schooner, which, eventually, "he sails into Jims history, a blind accomplice of the Dark Powers." Their meeting takes place as they face each other across a muddy creek"standing on the opposite poles of that conception of life which includes all mankind." This encounter is of enormous consequence, as Jim, "the white lord," contends verbally with the "terrible," "sneering" Brown, who slyly invokes their "common blood, an assumption of common experience, a sickening suggestion of common guilt. . . ." The conversation, Marlow was to recall in his letter, appeared "as the deadliest kind of duel on which Fate looked on with her cold-eyed knowledge of the end." Brown, with his "satanic gift of finding out the best and the weakest spot in his victims," seems to be surveying and staking out Jims character and capability. Jim, on his part, intuitively feels that Brown and his men are "the emissaries with whom the world he had renounced was pursuing him in his retreat."

Perceiving the potential menace of Brown and his "rapacious" To underesti- white followers, Jim approaches the entire situation with caution; he knows that there will be either "a clear road or else a clear fight" ahead. His one thought, as he informs Doramin, is "for the peoples good." Preparations for battle now take place around the fort, and the feeling among the natives is one of anxiety, and also of hope that Jim will somehow resolve everything by convincing Brown that the way back to the sea would be a peaceful one. Jim is convinced "that it would be best to let these whites and their followers go with their lives." Unwavering as always in meeting his moral obligations, he is primarily concerned with the safety of Patusan. But he underestimates the calculating Brown, again disclosing the propensity that betrays him. Quite simply Jim does not mistrust Brown, believing as he does that both of them want to avoid bloodshed. In this respect, illusion both comforts and victimizes Jim, as the way is made clear for Brown, with the sniveling Cornelius at his side providing him with directions, to withdraw from Patusan, now guarded by Dain Wariss forces.

Browns purpose is not only to escape but also to get even with Jim for not becoming his ally, and to punish the natives for their earlier resistance to his intrusion. When retreating towards the coast his men deceitfully open fire on an outpost of Patusan, killing the surprised and panic-stricken natives, as well as Dain Waris, "the only son of Nakhoda Doramin," who had earlier acceded to Jims request that Brown and his party should be allowed to leave without harm. It could have been otherwise, to be sure, given the superior numbers of the native defenders. Once again, it is made painfully clear, Jim flinches in discernment and in leadership, navely trusting in his illusion, in his dream, unaware of the evil power of retribution that impels Brown and that slinks in humankind. That, too, Browns schooner later sprung a bad leak and sank, he himself being the only survivor to be found in a white long-boat, and that the deceitful Cornelius was to be found and struck down by Jims ever loyal servant, Tamb Itam, can hardly compensate for the destruction and the deaths that took place as a result of Jims failure of judgment. Marlows earlier demurring remark has a special relevance at this point: "I would have trusted the deck to that youngster [Jim] on the strength of a single glance . . . but, by Jove! it wouldnt have been safe."

Jims decision to allow free passage to Brown stems from his concern with preserving an orderly community in Patusan: he did Moral pride not want to see all his good work and influence destroyed by violent acts. But clearly he had misjudged Browns character. Neither Jims honesty nor his courage, however, are to be impugned; his moral sense, in this case, is what consciously guided his rational conception of civilization. But a failure of moral vision, induced perhaps by moral pride and romanticism, blinds him to real danger. When Tamb Itam returns from the outpost to inform Jim about what has happened, Jim is staggered. He fathoms fully the effects of Browns "cruel treachery," even as he understands that his own safety in Patusan is now at risk, given Dain Wariss death and Doramins dismay and grief over events for which he holds Jim responsible. For Jim the entire situation is untenable, as well as perplexing: "He had retreated from one world for a small matter of an impulsive jump, and now the other, the work of his own hands, had fallen in ruins upon his head." His feeling of isolation is rending, as he realizes that "he has lost again all mens confidence." The "dark powers" have robbed him twice of his peace.

To Tamb Itams plea that he should fight for his life against Doramins inevitable revenge, Jim bluntly cries, "I have no life." Jewel, too, "wrestling with him for the possession of her happiness," also begs him to put up a fight, or try to escape, but Jim does not heed her. "He was going to prove his power in another way and conquer the fatal destiny itself." This is, truly, "a day of evil, an accursed day," for Jim and for Patusan. When Dain Wariss body is brought into Doramins campong, the "old nakhoda" was "to let out one great fierce cry . . . as mighty as the bellow of a wounded bull." The scene here is harrowing in terms of grief, as he women of the household "began to wail together; they mourned with shrill cries; the sun was setting, and in the intervals of screamed lamentations the high sing-song voices of two old men intoning the Koran chanted alone." The scene is desolate, unconsoling, rendered in the language of apocalypse; the sky over Patusan is blood-red, with "an enormous sun nestled crimson amongst the tree-tops, and the forest below had a black and forbidding face." Jim now appears silently before Doramin, who is sitting in his arm-chair, a pair of flintlock pistols on his knees. "I am come in sorrow," he cries out to Doramin, who stared at Jim "with an expression of mad pain, of rage, with a ferocious glitter. . . . and lifting deliberately his right [hand], shot his sons friend through the chest."

At the end of his explanatory letter Marlow remarks that Jim "passes away under a cloud, inscrutable at heart, forgotten, unforgiven, and excessively romantic." Such a remark, of course, must be placed in the context of Marlows total narrative, with all of the tensions and the ambiguities that occur in relating the story of Jims life as it unfolds in the novel. Nor can Marlows words here be construed as a moral censure of Jim [10, 156]. What exemplifies Marlows narrative, in fact, is the integrity of its content, as the details, reflections, judgments, demurrals emerge with astonishing and attenuating openness, deliberation. There is no single aspect of Jims life and character that is not measured and presented in full view of the reader. If judgment is to be made regarding Jims situation, Conrad clearly shows, then affirmations and doubts, triumphs and failures will have to be disclosed and evaluated cumulatively.

No one is more mercilessly exposed to the world than Jim. And no one stands more naked before our judgment than he. The scrutiny of Jims beliefs and attitudes, and of his actions and inactions, is relentless in depth and latitude. He himself cannot hide or flee, no matter where he happens to be. Marlow well discerns Jims supreme aloneness in his struggles to find himself in himself, to master his fate, beyond the calumnies of his enemies and the loyalty and love of his friendsand beyond his own rigorous self-judgments. The anguish of struggle consumes everything and everyone in the novel, and nothing and no one can be the same again once in contact w