gender issues, boyhood
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Jim takes on the gender role that fits he time and, more or less, today as well. He conforms to the male gender role as caretaker of the female (in this case his sick mother) as well as the individual seeker of adventure and riches. THis is the opposite of the female gender role which was much more insular and nurturing. Check out a quote from this essay on the subject. I'll list it in the source-link at the bottom.
"Many people think that boys in our culture today are brought up to define their identities through heroic individualism and competition, particularly through separation from home, friends, and family in an outdoors world of work and doing....Treasure Island is the epic tale of thrill seeking and adventure. Stevenson's main character is a small boy, Jim, who gets to go away from his mother and embark on a trip across the ocean. There are sea fearing pirates, sword fight, and bloody killings. These are typically things that interest boys."