Treasure Island: The Happy Family and Their Pet Coracle

This post contains spoilers for chapters 18-26 of Treasure Island.

We got one more chapter from the doctor’s point of view (we might get some more later on, I suppose). There’s much more about the adults and their concerns when we’re with Livesey.  The adults are being as safe as they can plan for; they’re doing the best they can with what they have to establish a secure position, to keep watch, to make a plan, and to repel the pirates. The captain is chillingly practical when Redruth dies and he observes that they have one less mouth to feed (chapter 18) but he’s also fine with keeping their flag up, even though it makes a perfect target for the pirates to shoot at. Smollett, man, where’s your head? His attitude toward Redruth’s death is really dark: it’s okay that he died because he died in his proper life station, i.e. dying for his master. Yikes. Whereas Trelawney asks Redruth to forgive him, and Redruth asks,

“Would that be respectful like, from me to you, Squire?”

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RIP Redruth.

Jim’s point of view, which we get back to in chapter 19, is much more reckless and therefore, in my opinion, much more fun. Jim’s like “it’s hot in here, let’s go find the boat! Let’s go get the ship! Let’s go on crazy adventures!” Typical.

Also, Ben Gunn. That guy is bad news. That guy is trying to be some sort of ninja-Gollum-parrot hybrid. He literally says, “Now, Ben Gunn is fly” (chapter 19). Ohhhhhhkay –

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Fortunately, Doctor Livesey has an illicit taste in Italian Parmesan and apparently smuggles it everywhere, which comes in handy when you need to bribe a guy who sneaks around at night bashing dudes’ heads in.

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Ben Gunn: I know what will make Jim’s friends like me: MURDER!

To be fair, the other good guys are all varying degrees of incompetent. Trelawney is a good shot, but they’re all FAILURES at lookouts. I love the part where Smollett finishes parleying with Silver, and NONE OF THEM ARE AT THEIR POSTS except Gray (chapter 21), and like, he doesn’t even really go here.

Smollett’s dressing down of his tiny incompetent company is gorgeous, especially: “Doctor, I thought you had worn the king’s coat! If that was how you served at Fontenoy, sir, you’d have been better in your berth” (chapter 21).

Smollett, in general, is really my favorite right now. What a babe. The scene between him and Silver is gorgeous. Silver comes along, trying to be all suave and manipulate them back into getting murdered by his crew. Like, it takes nerve to try to pass off an entire mutiny as just a big ol’ misunderstanding.

Silver calls Smollett and Co. “a happy family, in a manner of speaking” (chapter 20), which makes Livesey the mom, Smollett the dad, and Trelawney the irresponsible teenager. I am 90% sure this is accurate.

But anyway, back to Smollett being great. His rebuttal to Silver needs to be one of those epic speeches idiots quote in their Facebook profiles, especially:

“If you won’t, my name is Alexander Smollett, I’ve flown my sovereign’s colors, and I’ll see you all to Davy Jones.”

YEAH BABE YOU GO BABE!

Meanwhile Silver be like

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I mentioned in the last post, regarding Fletcher’s article, Silver’s disability and how it is used as a villainous characteristic. This is extremely problematic and we need to be aware of it. I think it’s interesting, though, how it’s also used in this scene almost as a point of empathy. Silver has to struggle up and down the hill while his enemies watch with absolutely zero pity, and then they force him to sit on the ground and then not help him up. Granted, he’s murdered a bunch of people by that point, but it’s interesting. IDK, discuss!

There’s a lot of shooting and killing and dying and I’m not sure what to say about that except RIP Joyce and Hunter, we didn’t know you at all but you made up like 30% of the good guys and it’s too bad you’re gone.

I am more concerned, logistically and morally, with the injured mutineer. Jim says he dies “under the doctor’s knife” (chapter 22); usually I would interpret this as dying while the doctor is working on him, but did he get murdered or what? Yikes. I mean, I guess the real question is, was the doctor wearing his wig while operating on him????

I really like some of the descriptions of the surrounding environment or weather in this book. A good example is at the beginning of chapter 22:

It was still quite early, and the coldest morning that I think I ever was abroad in, a chill that pierced into the marrow. The sky was bright and cloudless overhead, and the tops of the trees shone rosily in the sun. But where Silver stood with his lieutenant all was still in shadow, and they waded knee deep in a low, white vapor, that had crawled during the night out of the morass.

Yes, perfect, Robert.

Aside from the descriptions, I like the wry humor employed at times, such as Jim and his coracle in chapter 22/23:

I had not then seen a coracle, such as the ancient Britons made, but I have seen one since, and I can give you no fairer idea of Ben Gunn’s boat than by saying it was like the first and the worst coracle ever made by man.

Jim continues to be incredibly reckless and NOT THINK THINGS THROUGH but I absolutely love picturing him bobbing about in a home-made, mutated coracle. I have a lot of questions about how Jim cut through the hawser, but maybe a schooner is smaller than I’m picturing. Anyway, good job, kid, I guess??

I want Jim to become a naturalist and travel the world and describe the various animal and plant life he sees. Giant snails, Jim, really? How? HOW?

RIP coracle, I knew you way better than I did Joyce or Hunter.

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JIM: EVERYONE STAY CALM, I AM TAKING OVER THE SHIP!

ISRAEL (bleeding out on the deck): This ship can’t be crewed by one man-  you’ll never make it out of the bay!

JIM: Son….I’m Captain Jim Hawkins. Savvy?

I’m really impressed by the action scenes in this, particularly when the pirates attack the cabin and the whole chapter with Jim vs. Israel. It’s suspenseful and interesting and adventurous. I guess I see why this was such stellar adolescent entertainment at the time.

That’s all for now. Enjoy the last week of #treasuRead!

 

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