This is an essay about the book A River Runs Through it, and one of the stories inside it. We were supposed to write down the narrator's thoughts and feelings about Jim.
A River runs through it: Logging and Pimping and "Your Pal, Jim"
Throughout the story Logging and Pimping and "Your Pal, Jim," the narrator talks about a character named Jim. Jim is an exceedingly perplexing character that does certain actions and thinks a certain way that confuses both the reader and the narrator. He appears to have sudden swings in his feelings for the narrator, but the narrator changes his opinion of Jim from his initial perceptions to his final conclusion.
At first, the narrator is somewhat in awe of Jim. "As I said, Jim had talked me into being his partner for next summer, and we were going to gyppo and make big money. You can bet I agreed to this with some misgivings, but I was in graduate school now and on my own financially and needed the big money. Besides, I suppose I was flattered by being asked to be the partner of the best sawyer in camp. It was a long way, though, from being all flattery. I also knew I was being challenged," (Pg. 107). He was impressed with Jim's strength and skill, and amazed that a strong man like Jim would want an average worker like him for a partner. This first impression lasts throughout the entire story as an undertone to all of the other emotions the narrator is feeling toward Jim. But the initial reaction of only awe only lasts for a little while.
The summer they make their plans together, Jim tells the narrator about what he does in the fall, winter, and spring. Pimping. This is when the narrator starts to feel slightly disgusted with Jim. "So I started graduate school that autumn, and it was tough and not made any easier by the thought of spending all next summer on the end of a saw opposite this direct descendant of a Scotch son of a bitch," (Pg. 108). He listens to Jim's stories about pimping and starts to find him a slightly disgusting character. Then they start working together the following summer. Jim starts to tell the narrator more about his life of pimping and the type of women he likes to make his whores, mostly "big as well as southern, i.e., 'poetical.'" This gives the narrator a second impression that maybe Jim isn't such a great guy. Then they start going their own separate ways, and begin to hate each other. "I suppose that an early stage in coming to hate someone is just running out of things to talk about. I thought then it didn't make a damn bit of difference to me that he liked his whores big as well as southern," (Pg. 110). Their partnership turns into a challenge. They are both trying to make the other give up. "Jim's pace was set to kill me off—it would kill him eventually too, but first me. So the problem, broadly speaking, was how to throw him off his pace and not quite get caught doing it, because after working a week with this Jack Dempsey at the other end of the saw I knew I'd never have the chance if he took a punch at me," (Pg. 113). So the narrator begins his silent war with Jim by breaking all the rules for a successful partnership in logging with someone, or almost doing so. Later in the summer, the wife of a nearby rancher comes by every week and disappears with Jim for a while. That's when the narrator realizes that he really hates him. "As for me, for the first (and only) time in my life I had spent over a month twenty-four hours a day doing nothing but hating a guy. Now, though, there were times when I thought of other things—it got so that I had to say to myself, "Don't ever get soft and forget to hate this guy for trying to kill you off," (Pg. 116). But he survived the summer, and on Labor Day, he quit and prepared to go back to school. He thought he would go the rest of his life hating the man, but he met him one more time before he went back to graduate school.
The narrator's final impression of Jim is somewhat confused. At first, Jim seems like a hateful kind of man. But towards the end, he seems a decent person. "I bought the second round, and he bought another and he said he had enough when I tried to do the same. Then he added, 'You know, I have to take care of you.' Even after three drinks in the afternoon, I was a little startled, and still am," (Pg. 118). Jim appears comradely and leader-like to the narrator. He goes over to Jim's house the next night and finds out what his life is really like. He calls it a "warm family circle of lies," but it doesn't seem as if he disapproves of it very much. Then he goes off to school, but Jim still sends him letters and notes. In these notes, he manages to describe "the world in a nutshell" with only a sentence or two. The narrator ignores any hint of a suggestion that they work together logging, but it seems as if he is still a little impressed with Jim, though not awed. He doesn't hate him any longer, though.
Jim, though puzzling, is an interesting character that teaches the narrator some lessons. He goes through the story hating Jim, but in the end, after they aren't working together anymore, Jim nods and accepts that someone lasted with him as a partner, and treats that person with, if not full respect, than esteem. The narrator had several different opinions of Jim, changing them throughout the story, but the one that stayed with him the entire time was admiration, and to have someone like Jim hold him in a higher esteem than most people would is a lesson he will never forget.