by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island Appearances Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Now, to tell you the truth, from the very first mention of Long John in Squire Trelawney's letter I had taken a fear in my mind that he might prove to be the very one-legged sailor whom I had watched for so long at the old Benbow. But one look at the man before me was enough. I had seen the captain, and Black Dog, and the blind man, Pew, and I thought I knew what a buccaneer was like--a very different creature, according to me, from this clean and pleasant-tempered landlord. (8.5)
"I thought I knew what a buccaneer was like": famous last words. There is some irony to the fact that we get our modern image of pirates precisely from this "clean and pleasant-tempered landlord," Long John Silver. What does this description suggest about the appearance of the other pirates like Black Dog? How do they differ from Long John Silver?
"There," John would add, "you can't touch pitch and not be mucked, lad. Here's this poor old innocent bird o' mine swearing blue fire, and none the wiser, you may lay to that. She would swear the same, in a manner of speaking, before chaplain." And John would touch his forelock with a solemn way he had that made me think he was the best of men. (10.20)
We discuss Long John Silver's moral lessons using Captain Flint the parrot in "Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory." What also strikes us about this passage is Jim's final sentence: "John would touch his forelock with a solemn way he had that made me think he was the best of men." Does the tone of this reflection sound angry at his younger self? Regretful? What do you think Future Jim's feelings are about his past self's faith in Long John Silver?
I was surprised at the coolness with which John avowed his knowledge of the island, and I own I was half-frightened when I saw him drawing nearer to myself. He did not know, to be sure, that I had overheard his council from the apple barrel, and yet I had by this time taken such a horror of his cruelty, duplicity, and power that I could scarce conceal a shudder when he laid his hand upon my arm. (12.12)
Jim's new knowledge of what a complicated man Long John Silver really is seems to magnify his power over him. We find it fascinating that Jim succeeds in tricking even an arch-conman like Long John Silver: he says he can "scarce conceal a shudder," but Jim does conceal it. Jim really seems to have the makings of a conman himself. For more on the curious similarities we find between Jim and Long John Silver, see "Characters: Long John Silver" for more.