by Joseph Conrad
Lord Jim Men and Masculinity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"They were the best parts of life, its secret truth, its hidden reality. They had a gorgeous virility, the charm of vagueness, they passed before him with a heroic tread [...]" (3.4)
Jim's talking about his "imaginary achievements" (3.4) here, which are all about being virile and heroic. But they're imaginary, and we'll soon find that Jim's reality doesn't live up to his dreams.
"He was of the right sort; he was one of us. He talked soberly, with a sort of composed unreserve, and with a quiet bearing that might have been the outcome of manly self-control, of impudence, of callousness, of a colossal unconsciousness, of a gigantic deception. Who can tell?" (7.1)
Marlow is pointing out a huge flaw in the "system." He's part of an exclusive club of sorts – a community of gentlemen sailors, and the criteria for belonging to this club are pretty straightforward: be a sailor, be a gentleman (i.e. middle class), and be well-behaved. Marlow declares that Jim is "one of us," because he fits the bill. But Jim could also be a "deception," which means that membership criteria to the club just might need to be reconsidered. At the very least, Jim's membership should be revoked.
"I can't tell you whether Jim knew he was especially "fancied" but the tone of his references to 'my Dad' was calculated to give me a notion that the good old rural dean was about the finest man that ever had been worried by the cares of a large family since the beginning of the world." (7.6)
This book isn't full of positive examples of masculinity, but Jim's dad is one of them. But is Jim's dad only able to be as good as he is because he's safely tucked away in rural England and not exposed to the dangers and choices out in the empire? The book poses this question several times.