Lord Jim Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

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One critic has observed that in Lord Jim characters always seem to make important observations or discoveries while "in the light." Discuss.

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We can usefully examine the ending of the novel to show an example of this. Consider how Jim is described when, in the final chapter, he makes his way towards Doramin in darkness, but enters the light that is emitted by the torches that surrounds the gathering of people:

When he came up into the light of torches the wailing of the women ceased suddenly. Doramin did not lift his head, and Jim stood silent before him for a time. Then he looked to the left, and moved in that direction with measured steps. Dain Waris's mother crouched at the head of the body, and the grey dishevelled hair concealed her face. Jim came up slowly, looked at his dead friend, lifting the sheet, then dropped it without a word. Slowly he walked back.

This scene is immensely significant, because it shows how Jim has determined what he must do. Although he has made a mistake, he is determined not to make another one as he sees it, and therfore will adhere to his moral code and beliefs right up until the very end of his life. It is highly significant that the phrase "into the light of the torches" is used in conjunction with this momentous decision, as the light of the torches seems to symbolise the light that allows Jim to "see" what his next step should be.

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