Treasure Island
Robert Louis
Contributed by Sherie Debus
Chapters 7-12
Summary

Summary: Chapter VII

There is a delay in the preparations for the journey to Treasure Island. However, Jim is pleased to find out that Dr. Livesay has received a letter from Squire Trelawney. The letter describes the ship and crew that he now has. The ship has been obtained through one of Trelawney’s acquaintances, a man from Bristol. This man has a poor reputation in his city and he seems extremely eager to help.

The ship’s name is the Hispaniola. Trelawney says that he experienced a bit of trouble engaging a crew for the voyage. Things improved when he had the luck to meet with Long John Silver, an old sailor with only one leg. Silver informs Trelawney that he yearns to be back at sea and hopes to set sail again, taking the position of ship’s cook. Trelawney hires him for this job. Silver assists in arranging for the remainder of the crew, too.

Jim is sad to part with his mother, but after a sad farewell he sets out the following morning. He is to go to Bristol and is accompanied by Tom Redruth. Tom is another member of the new crew. While at a Bristol inn, they meet with Trelawney, who is wearing a new sea officer’s outfit. Trelawney tells them that they will set sail the next day.

Summary: Chapter VIII

Trelawney provides Jim with a note to give to Long John Silver at the Spy-glass. The Spy-glass is a tavern in the town. Jim happily sets off to look for Long John Silver. He finds that the sailor is more clean-cut than he expected. Jim is able to recognize him, though, and introduces himself. At this point, another customer within the bar suddenly gets up. It seems he wants to leave. This makes Jim look over. Jim sees that the man is Black Dog and tells Silver. Jim is happy that Silver has the same negative view of both Black Dog and Pew. Silver is able to gain Jim’s trust, and the two walk slowly by the docks as Silver relates information about ships and life at sea. When Silver is introduced to Dr. Livesay, he treats him with respect. Livesay seems rather happy to have Silver as ship’s cook.

Summary: Chapter IX

As they are boarding the ship, Jim, Silver, and the other members of the crew meet with Mr. Arrow, the first mate. Trelawney gets along with him well. Animosity exists between Trelawney and the captain. The captain’s name is Smollett. We find that Smollett has a great many opinions and does not hesitate to speak in an open way about how he dislikes most of the crew and about how he has bad feelings about the voyage. Smollett also says that there has been too much indiscreet talking about the map and the treasure, although Trelawney insists that they haven’t told anyone. Once the captain leaves, Livesay declares that he trusts Smollett and Silver completely.

Summary: Chapter X

The beginning of the voyage begins with a rather ominous tone. Mr. Arrow, the first mate, shows himself to be a drunk who is useless in carrying out his duties. One night he disappears, making the others assume that he must have fallen overboard in a drunken fit. Job Anderson, the boatswain, replaces him. Jim is still entranced by Long John Silver. He is impressed by how swiftly he is able to move around with just one leg. Jim also finds Silver’s parrot fascinating. It is said to be two-hundred years old. It is called Cap’n Flint, after the captain of the same name. There is strain evident in the relationship between Trelawney and Smollett. The voyage, however, goes on normally. Jim gets hungry one evening for an apple. He climbs into an apple barrel they have on board. While he is in there, he secretly overhears a significant conversation.

Summary: Chapter XI

While in the apple barrel, Jim hears Long John Silver telling other members of the crew about some of the adventures he had with old flint. Silver says that he has almost three thousand pounds safely concealed in the bank. He says that he gained it from exploits with fellow “gentlemen of fortune,” which Jim correctly surmises must be another term for pirates. Jim finds out that most of the former crew members of old Flint are now on board on this ship, pretending to be just an ordinary crew but secretly planning to steal the treasure for themselves. Silver says that some of the other members of the crew have joined with the conspirators, although others did refuse. Jim sees the pirates enjoy a secret rum stash. As the men drink the alcohol, the cry “Land ho!” is heard to come from the deck.

Summary: Chapter XII

The island is now visible before the ship. Smollett and the crew talk about the most advantageous place to drop anchor. Smollett looks at a map of the island. Jim sees that it is an exact copy of the same treasure map he saw previously. It only lacks the “X” showing the treasure’s hiding place. Silver has excellent knowledge of the island and he provides advice. He is enthusiastic as he tells Jim how much he enjoys the location. Smollett congratulates his crew, telling them they have done well. He then, below deck, meets with Trelawney. Later, Jim ventures below deck and tells Trelawney and Smollett about Long John Silver’s true intentions. He explains that he overheard them while hiding in the apple barrel. Trelawney quickly admits that he had been foolish in trusting Silver and taking on the crew. Smollett tells everyone that they must remain vigilant.

Analysis

Roles and boundaries start to blur as the journey to Treasure Island progresses and England’s well-loved landscape disappears in favor of an unknown island. While the crew earlier seemed friendly and docile, it now gives the impression of being sour and resentful, perhaps even hostile. Mr. Arrow, the first mate, whom Trelawney once very much liked, is shown merely to be a hopeless drunk after only days at sea. Silver is shown not to be the devoted supporter of the captain that he at first seemed to be. The discussion that Jim overhears is proof that Silver and most of the crew are entirely disloyal. It seems that even Jim’s role on the ship will end up being distinctly different than originally thought. He promptly transcends the limited role of cabin boy. Livesay refers to Jim as the ship’s most useful  person. This is because he is not only keenly perceptive but also not an object of suspicion for the conspirators. Proof that human character can be quite malleable is evident when we see the once apparently loyal members of the crew become mutineers and the humble cabin boy act as a hero.

Changing roles onboard present a challenge to established ideas about authority and the social hierarchy. It promotes a set of values that conflict with those dictated by tradition. The old power structure is swept aside to make way for a new one that has its basis in charisma and strength. Prior to the beginning of the voyage, Squire Trelawney clearly occupied the greatest position of control. He resents the reality that Captain Smollett fails to show him what he believes to be due respect. The first mate, Mr. Arrow, has a position that is only slightly beneath Trelawney. As the cabin boy, Jim is on the power ladder’s lowest rung. Silver is the ship’s cook and, as such, he appears to be only a minor personage. However, immediately upon the ship setting sail, Silver gains Jim’s respect with now nimble he is moving around with just one leg on the deck. On the other hand, Mr. Arrow’s position is called into question by his constant drunkenness. When Trelawney finally says openly that he was foolish to blindly trust the crew, the old power structure is able to unravel. At this point, the author suggests, there must be the development of a new society. This new society will not function in accordance with inherited wealth and titles, the system that gave Trelawney and men like him so much power, but rather will be structured according to principles such as fortitude, cleverness, and perceptiveness.

We see Stevenson intensely develop the character of Long John Silver in these chapters. Silver is shown to be a very complex character. It’s true that Silver’s motivation for wanting to find the treasure differs in no way from that which urges on Livesay and Trelawney (greed and the life of the pirate). Indeed, Silver only wants a lot of money in the bank and a leisurely life. This is the type of life that Trelawney has always had. While Silver may be searching for fortune in the wrong way, the goal that he has of enjoying a good life is not criminal in itself. It is also true, however, that Silver shows the ability to effectively hide his true feelings and motivations to a degree that might be considered devilish. He is able to cheer for a captain who he hates, making everyone believe he loves him with his false praise. While Jim is aware that Silver is disappointed when he sees the map lacking an “X,” Silver betrays no indication of this. He is extremely duplicitous in a way that could be interpreted as evil. Indeed, Silver is quite open about this, referring to the evil side of his character. He talks in Chapter X about the great deal of “wickedness” his parrot has witnessed.

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