Lord Jim’s better half
The reader encounters no sign of a woman role in the beginning and middle part of Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim. It is not until its last chapters that the reader can see a woman figure. Perhaps, the reason for late appearance of a woman in the novel is due to Conrad’s unique style of writing. The story begins with the narration of a third person, which later in the novel Marlow takes over. The narration of the story goes back and forth; it does not start at the beginning of Jim’s story. Nevertheless, once the character of “Jewel” is introduced, the reader could observe that she is important to Jim’s character. “Jewel” is not her name is actually Jim’s nickname for her. Jewel’s character has similarities with Jim. Because of past humiliations, both characters have somehow become isolated from their societies. However, once both characters meet an immediate attraction surges that later turns into love. Their similarities and difference bring both Jim and Jewel together. On the other hand, they both forget the curse that their ancestors and society has imposed on them.
Jim is a man of dreams who has been humiliated with the sinking of the Patna. He has tried to keep his head up by going to trial. People do not understand Jim; they think that like the other crewmembers of the Patna he should escape. People even think that he is stupid for staying. However, he does not see his stay is stupid, he thinks that as a man of honor he should confront the tragedy. Nevertheless, the destruction of his dreams (he will no longer be able to go into sea) leads him to live a different life; it makes him start again. Although he attempts to begin a new life, he still encounters people from his past that make him trigger horrible memories; he still keeps his code of honor. His honor would later lead him to destruction and away from Jewel.
In chapter 28, Jewel’s character is introduced, Marlow presents her “I am convinced she was no ordinary woman” (Conrad 210). Marlow sets an image of Jewel to the reader; she will have an important role in the story. Marlow continues to give her importance and describes, “For it is only women to put at times into their love an element just palpable enough to give one …en extra terrestrial touch” (Conrad 210). This extraterrestrial touch is the one that Jim needs and will obtain from Jewel. She will complete the heroic Jim.
Although she has characteristics that separate her from Jim, we shall notice her similarities. First, Jewel has had bad experiences; she has been through humiliations. Marlow describes Jim’s feeling, “He sympathized deeply with the defenseless girl, at the mercy of that ‘mean, cowardly scoundrel” (Conrad 218). Her stepfather Cornelius mistreats her. Jim seems to be heroic when he wants to defend his precious Jewel. Marlow says, “Jim would have enjoyed exceedingly thrashing Cornelius within an inch of his life” (Conrad 219). Unfortunately, he did not defend her. We must not forget that Jewel is half-white and half-Malaysian. Being half-white gives her the advantage that other women in Patusan did not have; she is intelligent. This makes her become closer to Jim.
Like Jim, Jewel seems to be fragile and innocent of her surroundings. This is shown various times in the story. She, like Jim, is presented to be always wearing white. In chapter 29, Marlow explains “More than once I saw her and Jim through the window of my room come out together quietly and lean on the rough balustrade-two white forms very close, his arm and her waist, her head on his shoulder” (Conrad 215). This signifies that both are pure. Jim is pure because he is ignorant of his environment and seems to focus only in himself. In addition, in Chapter 37, Marlow describes Jewel, “Her white figure seemed shaped in snow” (Conrad 265). Jewel seems to be pure because she is not aware of her surroundings but unlike Jim, we see that she is caring for others.
Her mom marks Jewel’s history....
Bibliography: Inniss, Kenneth. “Conrad’s Native Girl: Some Social Questions”. Pacific Coast Philology.
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Thompson, Gordon. “Conrad’s Women”. Nineteenth-Century Fiction. 32.4 (1978): 442-463. 5
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