What is the plot of "The Lagoon" by Joseph Conrad?


Quick Answer

"The Lagoon" by Joseph Conrad tells the story of a white man traveling by boat through a Malayan rain forest who meets a native friend named Arsat, whose woman, Diamelen, is dying. As the two men sit in the night eating and smoking together, Arsat tells the white man story of Diamelen, his brother and himself. In the end, the woman dies, and Arsat decides to avenge his brother.

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Full Answer

In "The Lagoon," Conrad employs the device of a frame story, which Dictionary.com describes as a story embedded within another story. Most of Arsat's story is told in flashback, constituting the main part of the narrative. Arsat explains that he fell in love with Diamelen, and his brother helped him elope with her. Since she was the servant of the rajah's wife, the rajah's men chased them. Arsat's brother urged Arsat to run into the forest with Diamelen, promising to hold off the rajah's men and catch up with them. Arsat and Diamelen found a canoe and, as they began to paddle upriver, saw Arsat's brother chased by many men. Arset did not turn back to help. He continued paddling, and his brother was killed. In the present, after relating the story, Arset goes to check on Diamelen and finds out she has died. Seeking peace in his heart, he decides to turn back and wreak his vengeance on those who killed his brother.

According to Bio.com, Joseph Conrad specialized in stories of violence and dramatic conflict set in faraway places. "The Lagoon" is a classic example of a Conrad tale of violence, death and potential redemption.

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