Treasure Island Summary and Analysis
This part begins while Jim is staying at the Hall, the squires' estate, supervised by old Redruth, the gamekeeper, while Dr. Livesey is in London finding someone to take over his practice and Trelawney is in Bristol finding a ship and crew. A letter comes from Trelawney, indicating that the ship, the Hispaniola, is ready to sail. Jim is troubled by the fact that Trelawney has let everyone in Bristol find out about their treasure hunt. Trelwaney writes that he has purchased a ship. As a ship's cook, the squire has engaged a one-legged old sailor named Long John Silver, who, in turn, found a crew of very tough sailors. Trelawney instructs Jim to go visit his mother before coming to Bristol. Jim is thrilled by the news and goes the next day to the Admiral Benbow to say goodbye to his mother. The squire fixed dup the inn and found a boy to take Jim's place at his mother's side. Feeling sad at the realization that he is leaving home, Jim is extremely critical of the boy.
The next day, Jim and Redruth travel to Bristol by coach. Jim, never having seen Bristol before, is enthralled by the sights, the sea, the tall ships, and the old sailors. In front of an inn, they come upon Squire Trelawney, who is dressed like an officer and has adopted the walk of a sailor. He informs the pair that the ship will sail the next day.
The most symbolic figure in this chapter is the boy that Squire Trelawney has hired to help Jim's mother. It is not until Jim sees this boy, whom he treats very harshly, that he realizes that he is indeed going to be gone for a prolonged period of time. The boy symbolizes Jim's childhood and the fact that no longer will he merely be a help at the family's inn, but he has been forced to grow up through circumstances that were of no fault of their own. The boy, therefore, represents what Jim used to be, something that he cannot return to.
In this chapter, again, Robert Louis Stevenson is a master of using foreshadowing in order to increase the suspense of the novel. Several clues are dropped that indicate to the reader that treachery is ahead of the adventure seekers. Readers can infer that Flint's desperate crew has realized that Trelawney has the treasure map, since the squire has not kept it secret. In addition, readers can guess that the sailor with one leg, Long John Silver, is probably the same one-legged seaman that Billy Bones worried about.
Another foreshadowing element is added to the plot when Trelwaney informs the others that Long John Silver probably wants to sign on as a cook to get away from his wife "of color." This comment is not only racist, but can also be viewed as a sign that Long John Silver is actually a pirate, since readers of Robert Louis Stevenson's day would know that pirates often had their headquarters in the islands of the Caribbean, which had a large black population, and often married the women of the islands.
At the beginning of this chapter, the squire sends Jim to the "spy-glass" to deliver a note to the new captain of the ship, Long John Silver. In stark contrast to the inn, Jim notices the cleanliness and brightness of the tavern. The new captain of the ship is also the landlord, a tall, strong cheerful man whose left leg is missing and consequently the man moves with a crutch. Jim harbors suspicions that the man he is sent to look for might be the one-legged man that Billy Bones was wary of, but upon meeting him, he is assured by his calm, cheerful manner that this is not the same man. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, Jim sees Black Dog run out of the tavern. Again, his suspicions that Long John Silver is the same pirate that Billy Bones was so terrified of resurface. Long John Silver, however, surprises Jim by being angry and upset over the sudden flight of Black Dog. He sends someone to catch him and then sets off to see Livesey and the squire, promising to report the incident to them.
As Long John Silver and Jim proceed to meet the other two, Silver "made himself the most interesting companion," talking about the sea and various other things. By the end of the chapter, Jim was convinced that he was the "best of possible shipmates." When they get to the inn where the squire and Dr. Livesey reside, Long John tells the story and the two gentlemen regretted that Black Dog escaped but agreed there was nothing to be done. As the three go to board the ship, Dr. Livesey admits to being very impressed with John Silver.
In this chapter, the reader gains his first introduction to Long John Silver, a famous passage in literature. Silver is initially presented with considerable economy of words "His left leg was cut off close by the hip, and under the left shoulder he carried a crutch . . he was very tall and strong with a face as big as a ham - plain and pale, but intelligent and smiling. Indeed, he seemed in the most cheerful spirits, whistling as he moved about among the tables, with a merry word or a slap on the shoulder for the more favored of his guests." Not only is Silver himself drawn with real conviction, but the ambiguity which is inseparable from his character is present from the moment that we meet him. Notice, even from his personal description, he is both "plain and pale" and "intelligent and smiling," two contradictory sets of descriptions.
Through Jim's eyes, initially, we see only one side of his dual personality. Silver appears to be physically weak because of the loss of one of his legs, but notice in his description that Jim never describes him as weak or incapable of movement, instead he describes Long John Silver as a hero, through a boy's eyes, someone ho is capable, competent, engaging, and extremely nice to the young boy. Long John Silver, in this chapter, begins to develop a bond with Jim that is again akin to a father-son relationship. At first, as demonstrated in this chapter, Jim is naïve about the glory of Long John Silver but soon this attitude will change.
Again, Stevenson makes good use of the notion of foreshadowing in this chapter. With Jim's original suspicions that Long John Silver is associated with Black Dog and is the one-legged pirate that Billy Bones feared, it places a certain amount of doubt in the reader's head as well. As Jim dismisses this notion, the reader dismisses, but does not forget, as well.
Finally, after much anticipation, Jim gets to board the Hispaniola, and meets Mr. Arrow, a old sailor who is the ship's mate. Soon after boarding, Jim realizes that all is not well between Mr. Trelawney and the captain of the ship, Captain Smollett.
The first thing that Captain Smollett makes it clear that he is unhappy with both the cruise and the men that Mr. Trelwney has selected to go on the expedition. Confused, the doctor intervenes and concocts that the reason that Captain Smollett is angry is for two reasons. First, he was not told the reason behind the expedition but all his hands were. Once he found out that it was a treasure hunt, he was more upset because of the dangers involved. Second, he was upset because he was not able to choose his own crew. He believes that the first mate is far too friendly with the crew, "soft," to have proper authority over the rest of the crew. At the conclusion of this conversation, in order to scare the men and make them believe that this is a dangerous trip, the captain reveals that he has overheard the exact longitude and latitude identified on the map. Trelawney protests that this was not possible because he has not revealed it to anyone, and, naively, the narrator believes him.
After his dire predictions, Captain Smollett proceeds to give advice about how the ship should be set up. If this advice is not followed, he threatens to resign. First, he demands that all of the squire's men should live together near the squire's cabin, and that the firearms and ammunition be placed under the cabin. Trelawney, not happily, reluctantly agrees to the captain's wishes but Livesey believes that both the captain and Long John Silver are "honest men."
Finally, Long John Silver comes on board as the men have changed the ship to meet the captain's wishes. Long John Silver, however, interrupts and says that if the ammunition is changed they will miss the morning tide. Angrily, the captain orders the cook, Long John Silver, to prepare supper, and for Jim to help him.
This chapter's primary purpose within the book is to increase the suspense. Again, Stevenson uses foreshadowing to accomplish this purpose. The basic warning in this chapter is Smollets' apprehension about the crew and the fitness of the pirates, that the crew is too soft, and that too many people know about the location of the treasure. This foreshadowing creates suspense, the goal of this type of novel. Another aspect of suspense is the ending of the chapter on a high note, making the reader want to turn the page and begin the next chapter.
The other major addition to the book from this chapter is the further characterization of Trelawney, Livesey, and the captain, and the addition of their characterizations to the eventual theme of the struggle between good and evil. Trelawney is again depicted as brash, hot-tempered, and a know-it all. In contrast, Livesy, through the excellent use of dialogue, is even tempered, perceptive, and intelligent. The Captain is depicted as someone who is blunt and tactless, but overall, as someone who is honest, businesslike, and someone who knows how to lead a successful mission.
Historical background is also important in this chapter, as it is throughout the next few chapters. First, fore and aft describe the forward and rear ends of the sip, the bow and the stern; astern means towards the rear-end. Port is the left-hand side of a boat, while starboard is the right-hand side. The forecastle of the boat is the section of the upper deck located at the bow. Finally, a schooner is a ship with two or more masts that are fore-and aft rigged.
In this chapter, Jim is introduced to the handwork that accompanies sea work. All night, he slaves to help the crew get the boat ready to sail in the morning. As the boat gets ready to sail, Long John Silver begins a rambunctious version of Billy Bones' song "Fifteen men on the dead man's chest."
This chapter is a count of the majority of the voyage to the island, and the narrator explains for brevity sakes, he only recounted the highlights of the voyage. Apparently, the first significant thing that happened on the trip was that the first mate, Mr. Arrow, was useless because he was always drunk. One night, he disappeared, most probably, having fallen over the side of the ship when he was drunk. As a consequence of his absence, many people have taken over his job, including the boatswain, Job Anderson, Mr. Trelawney, who took a watch (but only in good weather), and the coxswain, Israel Hands, an experienced seaman and a close friend of Long John Silver.
Although he only has one leg, Long John Silver (whose nickname is Barbeque) moves around the ship thanks to ropes and contraptions that are set up. At times, he uses rope around his neck to carry his crutch with him as he travels to and fro on the contraptions. Jim notices that Long John Silver has befriended all on the ship, doing favors for them in order to make them indebted to him. He is extremely well liked, and as the coxswain tells Jim, he is courageous and well educated. Throughout this time, the captain and the squire get along no better than they did in the previous chapter. The captain, however, concedes that so far, the journey has been better than he has expected and that the men have been behaved. He is still upset, however, that the squire treats the crew too nicely and that they will eventually not be able to do their jobs.
As the ship approaches the island, Jim is not allowed to reveal the exact location of the island but everyone anticipates landing and finding the treasure. Jim, wanting an apple, goes searching in the apple barrel. Although the apples are gone, he falls asleep in the apple barrel. When he awakes, he was in for a surprise: he heard Silver's voice. All that the narrator tells us at the conclusion of the chapter is that he realized the safety of all the "honest men" aboard depended upon his escaping safely.
The symbolic nature of the pirates' nickname for Long John Silver, "Barbeque," deserves attention in this chapter. This name is indicative of a familiarly and personal attachment which some of the pirates, as well learn later in the book, have experienced. Not only does Silver's power reign on the sea (despite his handicaps), he also successful tends to the customers and the kettle over the fire in his enterprise on the sea. During this chapter, Israel Hands admits an uncanny reverence for the man, something that was quite surprising. Jim's own relationship with Silver also points to the duality of his character; he is far from the one-dimensional pirate that the word usually conjures, but instead, a "dual character."
The ship, the Hispanolia, is a major symbol and representative of some of the themes in the book as well as the only transportation of the crew. The ship serves in this chapter, as in the novel, as a mechanism between savagery and civilization. It is the in-between stage between the romantic notion of adventure and the reality that will set in once those onboard reach the island. Stevenson accomplishes this task by the everyday routine of the ship being impinged on by the picturesque and the unfamiliar on the familiar. This is far different than the island, representing savagery, where unfamiliar and the strange will become a part of everyday life. The ship is also a contained space that does not easily allow intrusion (like the secluded inn and the island), a theme in the settings of this romantic adventure.
Another interesting aspect of this chapter is Jim's relationships with both Long John Silver and the captain. Long John Silver and Jim continue their easygoing relationship, and Jim is clearly in awe of the man (not unlike many of the pirates on the ship). He is especially impressed that he "treated him like a man." This relationship is countered by Jim's relationship with the hatred. Although neither the captain nor Jim ever give a reason for it, there is clearly hatred between the two characters. This is interesting, especially given the fact that Long John Silver will turn out to be the more evil of the characters, and the captain, although authoritarian at times, is clearly the more respectable figure.
Also contained within the pages of this chapter are the building of suspense and the use of chapters in order to further heighten the reader's apprehension. By ending the chapter on a note where Jim only tells us of the evil and warns us of the danger that he heard in the apple building, Stevenson again makes the book more adventuresome and scarier.
As this chapter opens, Jim is still in the apple barrel and overhears Long John Silver telling someone else stories about the time he served as Captain Flint's quartermaster. Excitedly, he remembers that he lost his leg at the same time that the pirate Pew lost his sight, in an explosion of gunfire. As he is bragging about his previous exploits, Silver begins to recruit the youngest sailor aboard, calling himself a "gentleman of fortune." Jim is offended that he uses the same words to lure the youngest pirate that he used to gain Jim's friendship. Silver tells the young pirate that the life of a pirate is rough and risky, but worth it because of the great wealth there is to gain. More impressive, he tells, is that after this voyage, because of the money he has saved and the money he plans to garner from this voyage, he is going to retire and live like a gentleman. In the mean time, he has instructed his wife to sell his tavern and take his money to a clandestine location where Silver will meet her after the end of the voyage.
In rough pirate dialogue, a far cry from the language he used when flattering Jim, he brags that he is even more feared than the famous pirate Flint. With these words, the young sailor (named Dick), agrees to become a pirate.
After this conversation, Israel Hand, a despicable man, joins Silver and Dick, inquires when Silver plans the mutiny. Silver's plans to exploit both Captain Smollett's skill at "setting a course" and the squire's and doctor's knowledge of the location of the treasure. The plan is to take the ship over, killing those on board who are not with the pirates, in order that Silver can return to live his perfect life as a gentleman.
At this point in the chapter, Silver orders Dick to get him an apple which scares Jim to death. Luckily, Jim is saved when someone suggests that they have a drink of rum instead. Finally, after the men have their drink, Dick leaves and Silver and Hand discuss the fact that this is the last sailor that will join, a fact that implies that there are still some honest sailors left onboard. At the conclusion of the chapter, Jim sees a bright moon and someone cries, "Land Ho!" because Treasure Island is finally within sight.
The dual personality of Long John Silver, something that has been hinted at in the previous parts of the book, is finally revealed in this chapter. Hawkins's attitude towards Long John Silver, becomes not one of reverence and awe, but instead, instantly, one of repugnance, as he remarks, "I think, if I had been able, that I would have killed him through the barrel." He feels betrayed, not only by Long John Silver's involvement with the pirates, but also because of the betrayal of their personal relationship between the Silver and Jim. Jim is most disturbed by the use of the same language that Silver used to talk to him that Silver uses to lure the new young pirate. This turn in the relationship between Silver and Jim marks another significant change in the book, a point at which Jim must again leave behind his childhood and grow up.
The most important literary technique in this chapter is the use of dialogue. The dialogue that the pirates use is some of the most colorful and deliberate of the entire book. For example, consider this scene, a superb use of pirate speech: "Billy was the man for that," said Israel. "Dead men don't bite.' Says he. Well, he's dead no his self; he knows the long and short on it now; and it ever a rough hand come to a port, it was Billy." "Right you are," said Silver; "rough and ready. But mark you here, I'm an easy man - I'm quite the gentleman, says you; but this time it's serious. Dooty is dooty, mates. I give my vote - death. When I'm in Parlyment and riding in my coach, I don't want none of these sea lawyers in the cabin a coming home, unlooked for, like the devil at prayers. Wait is what I say; but when the time comes, why, let her rip!"
The theme between the struggle of good and bad is also set up most brilliantly in this chapter. While there have been hints in the book, like the hints of Long John Silver's true character, in this chapter the true nature of the pirates and their plan of mutiny, as revealed through their dialogue, clearly predicts the future conflict between the "good" and the "bad" on the boat. In addition, Jim's worries that the future of the honest men on the boat also set up this paradigm of conflict between good and bad that will eventually come to pass.
Saved by the discovery of Treasure Island, Jim is able to escape from the apple barrel and joins the other in perusing the island. The island, as they discover, has three hills, one higher than the surrounding two.
At this point, Long John Silver admits that he has been on the island before, claiming that he was there as a cook on trading shop that was forced to stop on the island for water. While there, he claims that he learned the pirates' names for places on the island and offers to help the captain find the best place to anchor. He claims that the best place is an islet denoted as Skeleton Island, and that the previously identified highest hill is called Spy-glass, since it was the pirate's lookout. Because of his knowledge Captain Smollet asks Silver to look at a chart and identify the place the ship should anchor. Jim, astutely, recognizes that Silver merely wants to look at the chart in order to find out where the treasure is buried, but luckily, from Silver's disappointment, it is clear that the mark that Silver looks for was not on the map. During this time, Silver speaks to Jim and gives the boy a pat on his back, a friendly gesture, Jim coils inside and finds it extremely difficult to hide his feelings. Following this incident, Jim discretely tells Dr. Livesy that he has terrible news and asks that the doctor, squire, and captain meet in the cabin for him to tell them this news.
In the cabin, Jim tells the gathered group the terrible news that he overheard. Immediately, the squire apologizes to the captain, acknowledging that the captain was right from the beginning of the expedition. The doctor, however, explains that only Long John Silver's authority has kept the crew from showing any signs of the coming mutiny to this point. The captain realizes that the rest of the men must proceed like they know nothing or risk immediate mutiny. When the men least expect it, they will attack. They also realize that they must know who will be on their side. From the initial count, it seems only six grown men and a boy will be against nineteen other men. At the conclusion of the chapter, the squire and the doctor tell Jim that they are relying on him to learn more about the pirate's plan.
At this point in the book, it is relevant to consider the fact that Robert Louis Stevenson used real men from history to model the pirates from. Although he is a larger than life creation, Long John Silver was inspired by the pirate Henly. Having lost a leg, Henly provided a physical disability that would become an integral part of pirate lore. Many critics also believe that Silver's surname was suggested while he was on his honeymoon, part of which was spent at the Silverado mine in California. Other characters might have also had historical precursors, including Ben Gun (Benjamin Gunn of Rio Pun go), Blind Pew (Thomas Pew, admiral of the pirate fleet at Madagascar), and Darby McGraw (Darby Mullins, who was hanged with Captain Kidd in the early 18th century).
Another theme of the book becomes clear in this chapter, as the crew learn of the pirates planned mutiny. Robert Louis Stevenson plays almost a game of balancing knowledge against ignorance. First, the reader and Long John Silver's gang know the truth, while Jim and his friends remain in ignorance; then Jim and his friends learn the truth about silver's gang, but still Silver and his gang do not know that Jim and his friends know. Careful balance between knowledge and ignorance greatly enriches the possibilities of suspense, and Stevenson makes good use of the opportunities that he provides himself.
The role of the narrator, Jim, is also evident in the actions of the last two chapters. Because he is the narrator, Jim is central to the action of the plot. For example, it is through his overhearing the conversation in the apple barrel that the plot has taken another twist. Because Jim is a boy, he is small enough to escape depiction at many points and thus can learn more than the other characters can. Jim is also central to the plot because through the boy, the reader responds emotionally to what Jim is experiencing. For example, in this chapter, when Jim is trying to conceal his anger at Silver's touch, the reader learns of the cruelty of the pirate and the feelings of a young boy at trying to conceal his hatred and anger for the safety of the honest men aboard the ship.
Jim is seasick as this chapter begins, and is sickened at the sight of the island, which is not what he expected. As the men row the boats through a narrow passage, because the wind is still and they need to man the boat, Jim notices that discipline has been relaxed because they are so near Treasure Island. There is no sight that any humans are on the island, but there is a repugnant smell and Dr. Livesey suspects that this is because of illness on the island. Once they return to the ship, the men only grudgingly obey the orders because they are disappointed to be back on the ship. Only Long John Silver is willingly to cheerfully obey the orders, and advises his colleagues to do the same.
Realizing that the men's mood might lead to immediate mutiny, the captain allows the men to go ashore. Long John Silver, however, leaves six men on board the ship so that the six honest men cannot overtake the ship. At the last second, Jim slips into one of the boats in order that he can go ashore as well. When the boat reaches the shore, Jim hears Long John Silver call his name and in order to avoid detection, runs off as fast as possible, ignoring Silver's call.
Part III, that this chapter begins, marks another departure in the mood of the island. No longer are they in route to the island, and thus in between savagery and civilization, but the savagery that represents the island is beginning to creep into the narrative. Once the crew and the ship reach the island, everything will be markedly different. The fact that the men no longer want to obey their orders immediately when they get to the island is the first sign that savagery, instead of civilization, will dominate the action in this part of the world.
In the last few chapters, much more distinguishing characteristics have been given to Long John Silver. Clearly, Silver is much more calm, level, etc. than the rest of the pirates, especially the hot-tempered Pew or what we know of Flint. In the coming clash between good and bad, the evil and the honest, the only character who is ambivalent is Long John Silver, who is both good and bad. Although Jim thinks at this point in the narration that he is completely evil, Long John Silver is not like the rest of the pirates and will show that he is morally ambiguous, representing neither the good nor the bad.
The other thing that is worth noting is the description and setting of this chapter. As Jim describes the grayness and wildness of the tresses and the cliffs, the "poisonous brightness" of the foliage, and especially the smell of death on the island, the overwhelming mood that is set is one that suggests despair, death, and disease. Above all, it is not only sad but also sinister.
Treasure Island Essays and Related Content
- Treasure Island: Essays
- Treasure Island: E-Text
- Treasure Island: Questions
- Treasure Island: Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- Robert Louis Stevenson: Biography
- Treasure Island Summary
- About Treasure Island
- Character List
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 1-6
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 7-13
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 14-20
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 21-27
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 28-34
- Related Links on Treasure Island
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 1
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 2
- Author of ClassicNote and Sources