Joseph Conrad’s novel Lord Jim (1900) is an adventure story about cowardice and redemption. The main character, Jim, is a young seaman who becomes first mate on a steamer called the Patna. During a across the Indian Ocean, the ship flounders in a storm and the captain prepare to jump into a lifeboat, leaving the passengers to fend for themselves. Jim panics and follows the captain. Although the ship makes it safely to port thanks to rescue from a passing ship, the crew is charged with criminal negligence and put on trial. While the other men flee justice, Jim remains and becomes a social outcast.
Jim feels deep shame for his actions and remainder of the story traces his attempt to redeem himself through an extraordinary feat of bravery. He accepts an offer to become a trade representative on a remote island called Patusan. Jim rids the island of banditry and corruption – he receives the name Lord Jim by the locals for his good deeds. He also becomes romantically involved with a multiethnic woman named Jewel. She is the stepdaughter of another European named Cornelius, a man jealous of Jim’s success.
The novel ends when Jim makes the mistakes of offering safe passage to a group of pirates if they leave Patusan. This turns out to be a disaster when the pirates kill several locals, including the son of the chief, at the behest of Cornelius. Although Cornelius is killed as well, Jim takes responsibility for the deaths. Instead of fleeing the island to remain free, Jim presents himself to the chief and is executed.