Morality of the Native

In Lord Jim, I found a lot of interpretations on the morality of Jim’s abandonment of the Patna by the other characters. Jim, for example, finds his cowardice unacceptable and thus insists on standing trial for it. The French Lieutenant, on the other hand, holds the view that everyone is a coward, that “there is somewhere a point when you let go everything” (150). However, I couldn’t help wondering about morality with regards to the native. For example, was Doramin’s revengeful killing of Jim seen as equally morally ambiguous? Or was it seen as a morally acceptable or morally unacceptable? I personally felt that the issue of morality didn’t even seem to come into question, which is curious given that this whole book seems to deal with the issue of moral ambiguity and I wonder if this is a show of Conrad’s “racism”.


            For example, Doramin’s people are described by Marlow as were “intelligent, enterprising, revengeful, but with a more frank courage than any other Malays” (232). Doesn’t Doramin’s revenge killing of Jim support this over-generalizing and somewhat racist statement about his people, that they are revengeful? By not even bothering to deal with the issue of morality of the native, is the book suggesting that the issue of the native’s morality isn’t even an issue because what Doramin did is simply in the “nature” of his type of people? Or, is the issue not called into question simply because the whole book is about Jim and Jim’s journey. In which case, isn’t the text simply marginalizing the native in favour of concentration on Jim?

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