Treasure Island
Robert Louis
Contributed by Sherie Debus
Chapters 25-27

Summary: Chapter XXV

When he hoists himself aboard the Hispaniola, Jim is taken aback to find no one on deck. Later, though, he discovers two watchmen. One of them is Israel Hands. He is lying on the ground in a drunken stupor, wearing a splash of blood. The other is clearly dead. Jim talks to Hands, who asks for some brandy. Jim goes down into the cellar. He discovers that most of the alcohol on the ship has been consumed. He comes back with some alcohol for Hands. He requests that Hands think of him as the captain, as Jim has now taken possession of the vessel. Jim throws the Jolly Roger, the pirate’s flag, overboard.

Hands talks about the corpse beside him in an offhanded manner. He insults the man’s Irish nationality. He also says that he was useless in helping to navigate. Hands then talks about his own expertise at navigating. He offers to make a deal with Jim. If Jim provides food, drink, and medical help to hands, Hands will help Jim to sail the ship. Together they steer the ship in the direction of the island’s North Inlet. They are able to move quickly because of a favorable wind. Jim enjoys his new position of command. He remains wary of the way that Hands watches him, though.

Summary: Chapter XXVI

Hands and Jim approach the North Inlet. They are compelled to wait for a favorable tide before they can drop anchor. Hands suggests that they throw the dead body overboard. He doesn’t like the presence of a dead body on deck. Jim says that he dislikes this idea, but Hands declares that a dead man is only dead. Jim responds that the spirit never dies. In a way that strikes Jim as suspicious, Hands says that he finds the brandy too strong and that he would prefer wine. Jim pretends that he doesn’t suspect anything and goes to get some port wine. He secretly keeps an eye on Hands, however, and sees him take out a long knife from a place of concealment and put it beneath his jacket.

Jim is aware that he requires Hands to guide the ship into the inlet safely, but he stays wary of him. As he concentrates on properly maneuvering the ship, he takes his attention from Hands for a moment and he is attacked. They end up in a fight. Jim tries to escape by climbing up a mast and Hands follows him. Jim pulls out his pistol. Hands throws his knife at Jim. It pierces through his shoulder, pinning him up against the mast. When Jim’s gun goes off, Hands falls back. He lands in the water.

Summary: Chapter XXVII

Jim is still pinned to the mast by the knife. He sees Hands’s body in the water. It rises once before sinking down. Jim is covered in blood but he is not severely wounded. He is shuddering and feels terrified and quite faint but is able to compose himself. He rips a bit of his shoulder skin to free himself from the knife and mast. He makes his way down the mast to find a way to tend to his wound. When he sees the dead Irishman, he shoves him overboard. He looks at the body in the water.

Jim is now alone on the ship. He thinks that he is close enough to land to swim ashore. He does so and reaches the island. He then walks through the woods, searching for the stockade and Smollett, which is situated on the other side of the island. He is finally able to see a fire glowing in the distance. He discovers that its origins are campfires at the stockade. Jim is shocked that Smollett would condone this sort of a waste of firewood. As he enters the stockade, Jim discovers that the men are asleep. Suddenly, a voice is heard crying out, “Pieces of eight!” Jim recognizes the voice: it is Silver’s parrot, Cap’n Flint. Suddenly understanding that the pirates are now occupying the stockade, Jim attempts to leave. He is stopped by someone holding him in place.


Jim’s sense of authority continues to develop in this part of the novel. The fact that he takes control of the ship in Chapter XXV and what he says to Israel Hands about how he should be addressed as a captain shows Jim’s incredible increase in prestige. In a single voyage he has managed to move from cabin boy to captain. This accelerated ascent is as important in Jim’s adventure as the quest for treasure. It could even be more important. By contrast to the adults, Jim devotes little thought to the actual treasure or the leisurely life that it could lead to. When Jim enters the stockade and hears the parrot say “[p]ieces of eight,” we remember that the gold coins are the highest goal not only of the mutineers but Squire Trelawney as well. The “[p]ieces of eight” are not the central object of Jim’s own adventure, however, as he is not as interested in finding loot as in showing his worth as a hero and a man.

When Jim and Hands fight on deck, it is more than just a conflict between good and bad. The author also imbues the struggle with symbolic value. It is used to call attention to the contrast between Jim, who is self-aware, and Hands, who is selfish and destructive. In fact, we see Jim frequently seize firm control of everything that surrounds him in this part of the novel. He informs Hands directly that he has taken possession of the vessel. Later, after the struggle, he waits for a bit before descending from the mast until, as he says, “I was once more in possession of myself.” By contrast, Hands finds himself unable to claim ownership of anything. The ship he was supposed to be guarding is set adrift and is blowing around uncontrollably while he is drunk and unconscious. Hands’s failure to have control over the ship reflects the fact that he has no control over himself. The symbolic significance of alcohol is again clear here. Being drunk is more than physical intoxication. It indicates an entire inability of one to keep control of his own life.

In Chapter XXVII, the way Jim treats the body of the dead Irishman is rather surprising. This is because of the objections he had made in the preceding chapter to Hand’s implication that they should throw the corpse into the water. The fact that Jim pushes the corpse into the sea makes us ponder whether he had only been pretending to worry about the body’s eternal soul. The fact that he lacks any kind of solemnity in his manner makes this even more shocking. This is especially the case when the action stands in contrast with the way Trelawney cries when Tom dies in Chapter XVIII. The author indicates that respect for the dead is a demonstration of a good upbringing. It is true that the Irishman is an enemy of Jim, but his cold attitude towards the dead body seems uncharacteristic. These times when Jim appears to straddle the boundary between the moral men and the pirates render his character even more complex and fascinating. The fact that he suddenly behaves a bit like a pirate leads the reader to question how complete and conventional Jim’s development, spiritually and civically, has been.

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