Summary – Chapters Forty-Four and Forty-Five
Chapter Forty Four describes how, after passing Jim at the mouth of the creek, Brown, Cornelius and the rest of the party travel down a by-channel as directed by Cornelius. They are able to do this unnoticed as it is still misty. Brown orders his men to load their guns and says he will give them a chance to get even with ‘them’.
Meanwhile, Tamb’ Itam has reached Dain Waris and has given him Jim’s message (and the silver ring). Whilst Dain Waris’s men make a watch on the mainstream, Brown takes his revenge ‘on the world’ ‘with an act of cold-blooded ferocity’. He lands on the other side of the island opposite the Bugis camp and leads his men across. Cornelius tries to slink away, but after a scuffle with Brown he resigns himself to leading them to Dain Waris. Brown’s men shoot at this camp three times and Dain Waris is shot in the forehead on the second discharge.
After this, ‘the white men’ retire and Brown feels that his account has been settled: ‘It was not a vulgar and treacherous massacre; it was a lesson, a retribution …’ When Brown’s party leave, they take Cornelius’s boat with them. A month later, a story is told that Brown and two of his men survive the schooner springing a leak and are rescued. The two men die on board the steamer that rescues them, but Brown lives long enough to be seen by Marlow months later.
Tamb’ Itam strikes Cornelius twice after the shooting and killed him. Tamb’ Itam then leaves for Jim’s fort to let him know what has happened. There are many survivors of Dain Waris’s party, but they do not know who struck the blow or if they have been victims of a betrayal.
In Chapter Forty Five, Tamb’ Itam tells Jewel and then Jim about the events surrounding the murder of Dain Waris. Jim wants him to send messages to assemble a fleet of boats to capture Brown. However, Tamb’ Itam tells him it is not safe for him (as Jim’s servant) to go out amongst the people. Later, towards the evening, Tamb’ Itam says there is a lot of anger and they will have to fight for their lives; Jim replies that he has no life.
The narrative then shifts to Doramin. His son’s body is brought to him and one of the bystanders removes the ring from Dain Waris’s finger and holds it up before Doramin: ‘A murmur of dismay and horror ran through the crowd at the sight of that familiar token.’ Doramin lets out a roar of pain and fury and sounds ‘like a wounded bull’.
The narrative switches to Jim as he tells Jewel and Tamb’ Itam that it is time to finish this. As he walks out, Jewel cries, ‘will you fight?’ and Jim replies that there is nothing to fight for. She asks if he will run away and he says, ‘there is no escape’. She asks Jim for the last time if he will defend himself and he replies (with ‘superb egoism’), ‘nothing can touch me’. She holds on to him and Tamb’ Itam has to help ease her off. Jim looks earnestly at her face and then runs to the landing stage. Tamb’ Itam asks Tuan Jim to look back, but he is already in a canoe. Tamb’ Itam has just enough time to scramble in with him. Jewel shouts to Jim and says he is ‘false’; Jim cries, ‘forgive me’, but she replies, ‘never, never’.
Jim and Tamb’ Itam arrive at Doramin’s and the courtyard is full of armed Bugis men and Patusan people. Jim says he has taken it upon his head (that is, the murder of Dain Waris) and tells Doramin he has come in sorrow. He is ‘ready and unarmed’. Doramin is sitting down and is clutching pistols. He tries to rise and the silver ring falls from his lap. This is described as the talisman that opened the door of ‘fame, love and success’ for Jim. Doramin struggles to his feet with the help of two men, and shoots Jim in the chest. The crowd see Jim look to the right and to the left with a ‘proud and unflinching glance’. He then falls forward, dead: ‘And that’s the end. He passes away under a cloud, inscrutable at heart, forgotten, unforgiven, and excessively romantic.’
The novel ends with a reference to Jewel, the ‘poor girl’, who now leads, ‘a sort of soundless, inert life in Stein’s house’. Stein is described as having aged greatly and is preparing to ‘leave’ (that is, to die).
Analysis – Chapters Forty Four and Forty Five
These final two chapters describe Jim’s demise and his final decision to stay rather than run away. The decision to jump from the Patna has clearly influenced his decision to face Doramin unarmed and to martyr himself before the anger of this father.
Jim finally achieves his sought for heroic status as he refuses to fight or run. This is the version of the hero that Jim has tormented himself with, as he believes he failed to reach this standard when he thought the ship was sinking. This time he stays and effectively commits suicide. His own particular code of honor, which he failed to live up to before, brings about his death. He is given the fitting epitaph of being ‘excessively romantic’ and this interpretation of him acts as a warning against believing in the romantic ideals that he first discovered as a young reader.