The story that Arsat tells “tuan” (Malayan for “sir”) is one of sadness and sex. Arsat tells of the time when he and his brother kidnapped Diamelen (his lover, who was previously a servant of the Rajah’s wife).
They all fled in a boat at night, and travelled until they were exhausted. They stopped on a bit of land jutting out into the water to rest. Soon however, they spotted a large boat of the Rajah’s men coming to find them. Arsat’s brother tells Diamelen and Arsat to flee to the other side where there is a fisherman’s hut. He instructs them to take the fisherman’s boat. The brother stays back, telling them to wait for him, while he takes care of the canoe of the pursuers. However, Arsat did everything except wait for his brother. As he pushed the boat from shore, he saw his brother running down the path, being chased by their pursuers. Arsat’s brother trips and the enemy is upon him. His brother calls out to him three times, but Arsat never looked back. He betrayed his brother for a woman that he loved. Towards the end of the story, symbolically, the sun rises, and Diamelen dies. Arsat has nothing now; he doesn’t have a brother or a wife. He has lost everything. He plans to return to his home village to avenge his brother’s death, and die in the process. The story concludes with ‘Tuan’ simply leaving, and Arsat staring dejectedly into the sun and a ‘world of illusion’.
The Open Boat is a particularly interesting story because of the great detail that author extends and because ... reflections of the characters in consideration of their demise. The story possesses amazingly vivid description. This attention to detail affords the ... pencil's point' (385). Again, towards the end of the story, the narrator describes the bitterness the correspondent feels towards nature ...
The story is full of symbols and contrasts – such as the use of dark/light, black/white, sunrise/sunset, water/fire, and possibly the most important, movement/still. Arsat’s clearing is still, nothing moves, yet everything outside the clearing moves. In the end of the story, motion finally enters Arsat’s clearing. This symbolizes, that Arsat is finally a ‘free man’. Earlier in the story his brother tells him that he is only half of a man, Diamelen has his heart, and therefore he is not whole. With Diamelen’s death, Arsat becomes a whole man again, and movement enters his life once again. The movement also signifies his leaving of his ‘world of illusions’. As does his staring into the sun, and the sunrise. In the story, darkness represents ignorance and denial, whereas light represents enlightenment and
The main theme of the story is that death is inescapable, humans often have the illusion that through ‘true love’ nothing can touch us, and that love makes one whole. In order to succeed in life, one must overcome these illusions.
Man does not contemplate the mortality of life when blinded by youth and courage. The guilt which will inevitably haunt Arsat over this unforgivable act of betrayal is veiled by the illusion that love is worth fighting and sacrificing for. Arsat, like all men, clung to the illusion of Utopia and “a country where death is forgotten—where death is unknown” (Conrad, 1897) with Diamelen, and later finds that the guilt of his betrayal both to his Rajah and his brother would hang over him like the darkness of the night or the ghosts which the crew believed would perpetually haunt his dwelling. In an insight into the heart of man, Arsat states “What did I care who died? I wanted peace in my own heart” (Conrad, 1897).
The illusion of peace is an idea which Conrad would be well versed in; a man who led life of torment, who allegedly unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide at a young age, who saw the very animalistic nature of man during his years exploring the uncharted colonies of Great Britain in the Navy and was the victim of a torrid love affair himself.
In a dramatic twist, Diamelen herself loses her vision and consciousness as she is taken by a terrible fever. At the moment of her death, a “column of golden light shot up into the heavens and spread over the semicircle of the eastern horizon. The sun had risen” (Conrad, 1897).
... which results in the substitution of the illusion of love for love, usually comes from the mother, the ... is not real.It is a mere illusion, because love is not conditional and therefore not the ... which causes our never-ending search for the illusion of love. But where does narcissism itself arise from? ... and will forever be associated with the loss of love, trust, and care. Hence, a seemingly ...
In dying, Diamelen was no longer blinded by the illusion of love and immortality which she shared with Arsat. The physical manifestation of the re-born woman is described when “a white eagle rose…with a slanting and ponderous flight, reached the clear sunshine and appeared brilliant for a moment” (Conrad, 1897).
Arsat, however still blinded by illusion, does not bear witness to these events. Unlike his lover, Arsat is not blinded by the illusions of love and immortality, but is blinded by the bleakness of the world. “Now I can see nothing—see nothing! There is no light and no peace in the world; but there is death—death for many” (Conrad, 1897).
The other remarkable themes of The Lagoon are that the world is unpredictable. Arsat, the protagonist is not ready to accept the suddenity of the world. Love is nothing but an illusion. It makes a person blind and irresponsible to the family and society. Arsat’s love for Diamelen makes him blind and he truly becomes a “half man” without any sense and responsibility to family and country.