Treasure Island
Robert Louis
Contributed by Sherie Debus
Chapters 28-30
Summary

Summary: Chapter XXVIII

When Jim inadvertently enters the pirates’ camp, he discovers that there are only six pirates that remain alive. Silver addresses Jim in a fond manner. He tells him that Jim brings to mind what he was like as a boy. Long John Silver informs Jim that Dr. Livesay is upset about how Jim deserted him and is happy to be rid of him. Jim only partly believes that this is true, but he is pleased to find out that his friends are alive. Jim recognizes that Silver is experiencing problems with managing his men. They are disrespectful and surly in the way they behave. Jim makes the bold move of revealing that he cut the ship rope and killed Hands. He declares that he does not fear Silver.

While Silver only seems to be amused by what Jim has said, the men seem like they could become violent. Silver tries to assert his authority over them, but they get together in a far corner. Silver and Jim are alone in another. Silver quietly tells Jim that the man might start another mutiny. He claims that he and Jim only have one another to rely upon if they are to save themselves. He instructs Jim to pretend that he is hostage, in order to make Silver’s men believe that he still has power. Silver also tells him that Livesay has provided him with the treasure map. Jim is stunned.

Summary: Chapter XXIX

Silver and Jim wait for the pirates’ council to end. Silver is given a black spot by one of the pirates. The black spot, as we know, is the official pirate judgment. It is cut out of a page taken from the Bible. Silver reads the judgment with a casual manner. It announces that he is being removed from his position. It is in punishment for failing at the mission. Silver is angry. He stays that if the men had followed his orders, they would already have the treasure. He declares that the men bear responsibility for the failure. This is because they forced his hand. He also informs them that they are all at risk of being hanged very soon. He talks about how useful it is to have Jim as a hostage and asks his men to recall that it was he, Long John Silver, who made arrangements for Dr. Livesay to tend to them.

Silver throws down the treasure map that Livesay gave him. The men finally come around him again. Silver gives Jim the black spot, apparently as a sort of souvenir. Jim reads the biblical quote that is on the page. It is taken from the Book of Revelation. Jim falls asleep pondering the man he killed. He also wonders about the fate of Long John Silver.  

Summary: Chapter XXX

The following morning, Jim awakens as Dr. Livesay arrives. He has come to tend to the men. Jim is pleased to see him. He fears that he will disapprove of him, though. Dr. Livesay is stunned to lay eyes on Jim. He does not speak to him, though. He treats the patients. After a while, he requests to speak to Jim by himself. When one of the pirates seems to refuse to let this happen, Silver says that the wish will be granted. Livesay and Jim go to the opposite side of the stockade. They are still in Silver’s view. Livesay shows surprise that Silver doesn’t seem to be concerned about possibly losing his hostage. Silver says that Livesay is a gentleman and he trusts him.

Livesay says that Jim was cowardly in his desertion of the captain at a weak moment. Jim starts to cry. Livesay makes the sudden suggestion that they make a run for it together and get away from the pirates. Jim declares that an action such as that would be wrong. He informs Livesay that he knows where the Hispaniola is. Livesay states that Jim is somehow able to save their lives in every circumstance. He gives back Jim as a hostage to Silver but warns the pirate he should not be in any rush to find the treasure.

Analysis

The author again pays attention to the constant question of whether there is a noble element to the pirates in Chapter XXX. Livesay, who has just upbraided Jim for leaving the captain in a difficult moment, suddenly urges Jim to leave Silver. This kind of hypocrisy stands in contradiction to Livesay’s usually gentlemanly behavior and is a betrayal of the trust that Silver has placed in him. The fact that Silver refuses to leave is an ethical choice rather than a practical one. He declares that it would be wrong to leave Silver at that moment. However, it can be said that the decision Jim makes has an ironic element. This is because he willingly left his good captain earlier in the story but now will not desert his clearly evil adversary. We are again left wondering whether Jim privately feels a greater sense of respect for and solidarity with Silver than he does for and with Smollett. Obviously, Jim is unlikely to reject society and embrace life as a lawless pirate. Nevertheless, he does have a strong sense of spiritual sympathy with Silver, and this has positive consequences. At this point, at least, Jim is shown to be more of a real gentleman than Livesay, even though the latter is a rich man belonging to high society whose ethics wouldn’t generally be questioned.

The fact that the pirates are unable to take care of themselves becomes even clearer in this part of the book, although these men stay enthralling and interesting in a number of ways. A mere six pirates are still alive. Among Smollett’s men, however, hardly any has been killed. The lack of foresight and reckless nature we see in the pirates is at minimum partially to blame for the losses they have sustained. The fact that the pirates continue to be dysfunctional together as a group is even more significant. Silver experiences difficulty in managing his own men and is dangerously close to dealing with a mutiny when Jim finds them. Silver’s agitation when he tries to defend his authority for the first time shows that he is no longer cool and collected. When the mutineers present their rationale for hoping to depose Silver, Silver declares that those points are out of order. This indicates that he is extremely worried. The tension that exists amongst the pirates indicates that the group is closely approaching self-destruction as a unit.

The novel’s spiritual aspect comes up again in a minor plot detail that takes on significant symbolic importance: the black spot that Silver is given by the pirates is written on a page taken from the Book of Revelation in the Bible.  The pirates appear aware that the transgression of taking a page out of the Bible is a very bad omen. Later on, when they swear an oath on the Bible, they wonder whether the book is still as holy with a single page missing. The pirates disputing the Bible at a crisis moment indicates that even immoral men are unable to escape the power of the Bible. Jim also appears impacted by the verse that is inscribed on the paper, reading “Without are dogs and murderers.” This alludes to the final divine verdict that the Bible declares will fall on Judgment Day. Jim drifts into sleep pondering Silver’s fate. It seems as if he is approaching judging Silver himself.

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