by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island Criminality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
I believe the silly fellows must have thought they would break their shins over treasure as soon as they were landed, for they all came out of their sulks in a moment and gave a cheer that started the echo in a faraway hill and sent the birds once more flying and squalling round the anchorage. (13.23)
Many of the pirates are incredibly childlike in their behavior: quick to feel joy, quick to quake with fear, and quick to flare up in anger. They make Jim, who is an actual child (or at least a teenager) seem positively mature by comparison.
"For thirty years," [Israel Hands] said, "I've sailed the seas and seen good and bad, better and worse, fair weather and foul, provisions running out, knives going, and what not. Well, now I tell you, I never seen good come o' goodness yet. Him as strikes first is my fancy; dead men don't bite; them's my views--amen, so be it." (26.22)
No wonder pirates can never trust one another and can never relax. Israel Hands sums up pirate philosophy as: kill first to prevent yourself from being killed. He has never seen anyone profit from goodness. But this also goes to show Long John Silver's point that you are who you associate with: Israel Hands has to live on edge like this because he's surrounded by pirates. If you are a good man surrounded by good people, surely good can come to you?
"That's your sort, is it?" [Long John Silver] added, returning his pipe to his mouth. "Well, you're a gay lot to look at, anyway. Not much worth to fight, you ain't. P'r'aps you can understand King George's English. I'm cap'n here by 'lection. I'm cap'n here because I'm the best man by a long sea-mile. You won't fight, as gentlemen o' fortune should; then, by thunder, you'll obey, and you may lay to it!" (28.36)
When Long John Silver first sees signs that George Merry wants to sabotage his captaincy, his response is that they are too afraid to fight him, so he'll hang on to the captaincy as long as he likes. It seems that what makes a good pirate leader is charisma. These pirates are all so superstitious and suspicious of one another that they will only listen to leaders who frighten them. They don't understand any rule but fear.