Discuss why Jim lacks the respect of his own people in Lord Jim.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Part of Jim's character is to precisely not have the full respect of anyone around him.  White society does not respect Jim because of his past and because of the fact that he has made his home in Patusan.  While the residents of the island do respect him to an extent, many are more eager to see him go, like his predecessors.  Condrad's construction of Jim's character might be indicative of another reason why Jim lacks a certain respect.  Jim displays a certain discomfort with his identity and who he is.  This discomfort comes from a lack of acknowledgement about his past and a desire to flee from it.  Jim has not made peace with what he did as captain of the Patna and this transmits to others.  This is the reason why Jim demonstrates so much in terms of capitulation to anyone who is a reminder of his past.  It might be in this light that Conrad is asserting that Jim's lack of respect from others comes from his own lack of respect.  His sacrifice in the end, while not understood by others, might be the one action he takes with a sense of certainty in his actions and might be reason enough why he dies with a smile on his face.  It is only through death that Jim has moved past the lack of respect that others hold toward him and what he holds toward himself.

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