Great literature has the capacity to stir our souls, and to uplift and edify us. The greatest of all the works of literature center on and around the theme of man’s desire to better himself, and to redeem and separate himself from that which is degrading. Such a work of literature is Joseph Conrad’s “Lord Jim.” The message behind the novel is one of redemption. It is about Jim, an idealistic young man who agonizes over a past transgression. His grief over his past is such that he labors to redeem himself all the days of his life in service to others.
Trouble ensues when a pirate appears who knows of Jim’s past. Rather than take the life of the pirate, he allows him to escape because he feels it would be dishonorable to take the life of a man, simply because he knows of Jim’s past. The pirate and his men set an ambush in which a young friend of Jim’s is killed. In an attempt to recompense for the life of the boy, Jim willingly turns himself over to the grieving father. Having thus offered himself up, he takes a bullet in the chest.
Through great literature we become privy to profound thought, for no book of true value is written save through intense mental struggles on the part of the author. His mind probes the very depth of human reason; he pens his thoughts with the aid of Heaven; inspiration is his guide and benefactor. His mind is constantly on his chosen piece, for even in his leisure moments, he is mentally writing and rewriting.
Of all literature written, is there any to compare with the scriptures, from which source many a great writer has received spiritual sustenance? In holy writ, the central theme is indeed that of redemption, for a loving God would have us repent of our sins, that we may return to Him cleansed of our sins if only we will.