Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
This novel is about Jim, but the poor guy never really gets a chance to tell his own story. What is the effect of having Marlow (and others through Marlow) tell us Jim's story, instead of hearing it from the man himself?
Is Marlow a reliable narrator or not? Can we trust the information we get from him? Do the answers to these questions change how you read the story?
What do Jim's failure, and his inability to deal with that failure, tell us about him?
Why was Jim's disgrace such a big deal? What does it tell us about the culture Jim comes from?
Do you think Jim redeems himself at the end of the novel? Or is he the same old coward he always was?
What do characters' different reactions to Jim's Patna scandal tell us about those characters? For example, what does Stein's opinion of Jim tell us about Stein?
What do you think of Jewel? Is she a well-rounded female character or just a prop to move along the male characters' stories? Are there negative stereotypes in the way Conrad portrays her?
What role does Cornelius play in the novel? Is he just there to be obnoxious? Is he evil incarnate? Do you ever feel a little sorry for him?
Does Jim's time on Patusan change the way you think of our guy? Does his behavior there show a different side to Jim, or is he just playing the part of the hero to escape his past?
Lots of critics over the years have described the Patusan episode as weak. What do you think? Do you like it as an ending, or did it leave you saying, "huh?"
Do you feel sympathy for Jim? If so, how do you think Conrad evokes this feeling in you? If not, why not?
Stein describes Jim as a "romantic" (20.27). What do you think Stein means by this? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Or both?
We spend a fairly long time at the start of the novel wondering exactly what the heck Jim did. What's the effect of delaying Jim's confession for so long? Did it make you more curious? More frustrated?