Write a critique about chapter five of Lord Jim.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the interesting aspects about this chapter, as Marlow continues his narration about Jim and how he met him and the significance of his life, is shown in the following, rather lengthy quote, which draws a contrast between the kind of situation that most men enjoy in life and then the life that Jim enjoyed:

And it's easy enough to talk of Master Jim, after a good spread, two hundred feet above the sea-level, with a box of decent cigars handy, on a blessed evening of freshness and starlight that would make the best of us forget we are only on sufferance here and got to pick our way in cross lights, watching every precious minute and every irremediable step, trusting we shall manage yet to go out decently in the end- but not so sure of it after all- and with dashed little help to expect from those we touch elbows with right and left. Of course there are men here and there to whom the whole of life is like an after-dinner hour with a cigar; easy, pleasant, empty, perhaps enlivened by some fable of strife to be forgotten before the end is told- before the end is told- even if there happens to be any end to it.

This quote suggests that there is actually something very unsettling about Jim and the way in which he was definitely not the kind of man who passed the whole of life as "an after-dinner hour with a cigar." Marlow implies that it is easy enough to talk about Jim and his life and what he represented under such circumstances, but the environment of the listeners will perhaps mask them to the true meanign and import of such a story. They, after all, have not experienced the same kind of trauma and difficulties as Jim did, and the same kind of raw life, and therefore will treat his story as nothing more than a diversion.

Stylistically, also note the long, complex sentences that Marlow uses when talking about Jim that clearly point towards the way he is struggling to make philosophical sense of the enigma of Jim and what he represented himself.

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