Study Guide

Lord Jim Youth

By Joseph Conrad


Jim is the ne'er do well kid to Marlow's well meaning if a bit frustrated father-figure. Jim makes mistake after youthful mistake, and Marlow picks up the pieces when he can. In many ways, we might think of <em>Lord Jim</em> as the story of a young man struggling to overcome an impulsive mistake. Jim hasn't had a ton of life experience, after all, and he might be ill-equipped to handle the challenges life throws his way. But can we write off all Jim's troubles and bad decision making as a product of his immaturity? Or is there something more deeply wrong with his character?

Questions About Youth

  1. Jim doesn't seem to have any friends his age (except Dain Waris, of course). He spends much of the novel hanging out with Marlow's friends and associates. Do you think Jim might be isolated by his age?
  2. Does Marlow's attitude toward Jim's youth change over the course of the novel? If it does, what does that change tell us about Marlow? About Jim?
  3. Do you think that Jim grows and matures throughout the novel, or does he hold on to his youth? What does your answer to this question tell you about Jim?
  4. Do we get a sense of how old Marlow is? Are there any clues in the text? What does his age tell us about his character?

Chew on This

Jim's youthful inexperience leads to his his rash actions aboard the Patna. It has nothing to do with his inner character.

Patusan equals Neverland. Once there, Jim becomes a perpetual youth; he never grows up.