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Treasure Island

Treasure Island


by Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island Duty Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

"I'll show these rogues that I'm an honest woman," said my mother. "I'll have my dues, and not a farthing over. Hold Mrs. Crossley's bag." And she began to count over the amount of the captain's score from the sailor's bag into the one that I was holding.

It was a long, difficult business, for the coins were of all countries and sizes--doubloons, and louis d'ors, and guineas, and pieces of eight, and I know not what besides, all shaken together at random. The guineas, too, were about the scarcest, and it was with these only that my mother knew how to make her count. (4.19-20)

Jim's mother is the one who first opens Billy Bones's sea chest, but what makes it OK is that she is looking for the money he owes her. This means Jim manages to come by the treasure map without stealing – he's still a good kid, and certainly better than the pirates. But the other thing that's key about this scene is that it introduces something new and exotic into the story line. Billy Bones's coins "of all countries and sizes" demonstrates that he is widely traveled. This foreshadows that Jim is going to go on a voyage of his own, and perhaps even that he will wind up with his own collection of coins from around the world.

Quote #2

"Stand by to go about," the parrot would scream.

"Ah, she's a handsome craft, she is," the cook would say, and give her sugar from his pocket, and then the bird would peck at the bars and swear straight on, passing belief for wickedness. "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 forelock with a solemn way he had, that made me think he was the best of men. (10.19-20)

Long John Silver uses Captain Flint the parrot to teach Jim a lesson about keeping good company: hanging around pirates will make you look and sound like one. And indeed, this lesson does seem to explain the morally ambiguous choice the good guys make to maroon the three pirates on Treasure Island. After all, isn't marooning a specifically pirate punishment? Even the good guys have spent too much time around Long John Silver to be totally morally pure.

Quote #3

In the meantime, the squire and Captain Smollett were still on pretty distant terms with one another. The squire made no bones about the matter; he despised the captain. The captain, on his part, never spoke but when he was spoken to, and then sharp and short and dry, and not a word wasted. He owned, when driven into a corner, that he seemed to have been wrong about the crew, that some of them were as brisk as he wanted to see and all had behaved fairly well. As for the ship, he had taken a downright fancy to her. "She'll lie a point nearer the wind than a man has a right to expect of his own married wife, sir. But," he would add, "all I say is, we're not home again, and I don't like the cruise." (10.21)

Captain Smollett's honesty with Squire Trelawney sets him apart from the easy flattery of men like Long John Silver and Israel Hands. It's because Captain Smollett is willing to be disagreeable that we know he is trustworthy.

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