by Joseph Conrad
Lord Jim Chapter 8 Summary
- Imagine Jim, still frozen, waiting for the ship to sink. He manages to snap out of it and rushes to the lifeboats, of which there are only three. Notice he's not exactly sounding the alarm. Nope, he's too busy saving his own skin.
- When he is stopped on his mad dash to the lifeboats by a beggar asking for water, Jim gets so agitated by the interruption that he nearly flips out. Actually he does flip out: Jim whacks him in the face with a lantern. Chill out, Jimmy. Take a deep breath.
- The poor beggar keeps asking for water, and Jim finally tosses his entire water canteen at the guy.
- Meanwhile, the rest of the crew are anxiously working on getting the lifeboat ready to go.
- Not wanting to wake the passengers, they work in a quiet panic. It's clear by now that this is one of those every-man-for-himself situations.
- To defend his actions, Jim interrupts himself and asks Marlow what he would have done in the same situation.
- We also learn that two Malays remained at the wheel of the ship the entire time. The white men pretty much ignored them. They were too busy looking out for number one.
- Taking over the storytelling for a bit, Marlow tells us about the pilgrims who were left alone and adrift on the ship. We hope they got a refund.
- When the scandal broke and the pilgrims and Malay helmsmen were rescued, the two "native" helmsmen had to give evidence.
- One of these Malay men couldn't believe that the white men had abandoned ship in such a cowardly fashion and insisted they had "secret reasons" for leaving (8.19), perhaps racist ones. There's all sorts of social commentary going on.
- We hate to break it to you, dude, but the secret reason was that they were all a bunch of punks.
- But before we get too sidetracked, let's jump back to Jim's story.
- As he relates it to Marlow, Jim starts to laugh hysterically in the restaurant with Marlow:
- "Along the whole dim length of the gallery the voices dropped [...] and the silence became so profound that the clear tinkle of a teaspoon falling on the tessellated floor of the verandah rang out like a tiny silvery scream."
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