Jim, a British seaman and chief mate of the Patna. When the ship seems to be sinking after striking a submerged derelict, he jumps into a lifeboat at the urging of his fellow officers, who have already abandoned the ship and her passengers. The Patna, however, does not sink; it is discovered by a French gunboat and towed to port. Jim and his three companions are sighted and brought to port separately. After the ensuing investigation, Jim spends the remainder of his life trying to regain his heroic conception of himself and to prove to men that it was not “he” who jumped. Finally, on the island of Patusan, he earns from the natives the title of “Lord Jim” and faces his death in a heroic manner.
Marlow, an intelligent sea captain and “insatiably curious psychological observer” who sympathizes with Jim and aids him. Narrating most of the story, he says Jim is “one of us,” meaning, perhaps, that he is neither maliciously evil nor excessively good.
Captain Brierly, the “unimpeachable professional seaman” and a nautical assessor at the inquiry into the desertion of the Patna. He identifies himself with Jim in some strange way. Awakened, perhaps, to humankind’s vulnerability, he commits suicide on his next voyage.
The French Lieutenant
The French Lieutenant, an unimaginatively brave man who stays aboard the Patna for thirty hours while she is being towed to port. He never thinks that he has been heroic.
(The entire section is 666 words.)