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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #1

He was anxious to make this clear. This had not been a common affair, everything in it had been of the utmost importance, and fortunately he remembered everything. (4.6)

You might think Jim would want to downplay the shenanigans aboard the Patna in order to escape the legal consequences, but then again, he wouldn't be Jim if he didn't throw us for a loop every now and then. In this case, he maximizes the significance of the Patna incident, which seems like a bad idea if you ask Shmoop. But we can't blame the guy for trying to justify his choices, and being absolutely clear is one of the ways he can do that.

Quote #2

"Who can tell what flattering view he had induced himself to take of his own suicide."
"'Why did he commit the rash act, Captain Marlow – can you think?' asked Jones, pressing his palms together. 'Why? It beats me! Why?'" (6.11-2)

Brierly's suicide is one of the most mysterious choices a character makes in the novel. Because he's not a main character, we never get a full picture of what makes this guy tick. Marlow can speculate and theorize, but in the end, "who can tell"?

Quote #3

"'Why are we tormenting that young chap?' he asked. This question chimed in so well to the tolling of a certain thought of mine that, with the image of the absconding renegade in my eye, I answered at once, 'Hanged if I know, unless it be that he lets you.'" (6.13)

Marlow's response to Brierly illustrates something that sheds new light on our view of Jim: some of the choices a character makes can be unconscious. Here, the sailing community is shaming Jim, but they are not making any kind of conscious choice to do so. They don't know why they're doing it, only that they have the opportunity. Could Jim's choice aboard the Patna be similarly unconscious?

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