by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island Exploration Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
It was a strange collection, like Billy Bones's hoard for the diversity of coinage, but so much larger and so much more varied that I think I never had more pleasure than in sorting them. English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Georges, and Louises, doubloons and double guineas and moidores and sequins, the pictures of all the kings of Europe for the last hundred years, strange Oriental pieces stamped with what looked like wisps of string or bits of spider's web, round pieces and square pieces, and pieces bored through the middle, as if to wear them round your neck--nearly every variety of money in the world must, I think, have found a place in that collection; and for number, I am sure they were like autumn leaves, so that my back ached with stooping and my fingers with sorting them out. (34.3)
But even if exploration has a dark side, treasure is still awesome and exciting. Treasure Island never lets us forget this joy in seeing and touching new stuff. In this case, the things are new and strange kinds of coins. This is also a nice piece of narrative closure, because we have come full circle from the small bag of coins in Billy Bones's chest to the giant hoard in Ben Gunn's cave. The foreshadowing of Jim's future quest in the early chapters of the novel has come to pass by the final chapter.
It was just at sundown when we cast anchor in a most beautiful land-locked gulf, and were immediately surrounded by shore boats full of Negroes and Mexican Indians and half-bloods selling fruits and vegetables and offering to dive for bits of money. The sight of so many good-humoured faces (especially the blacks), the taste of the tropical fruits, and above all the lights that began to shine in the town made a most charming contrast to our dark and bloody sojourn on the island; and the doctor and the squire, taking me along with them, went ashore to pass the early part of the night. Here they met the captain of an English man-of-war, fell in talk with him, went on board his ship, and, in short, had so agreeable a time that day was breaking when we came alongside the Hispaniola. (34.20)
After their awful time on Treasure Island, Jim, Doctor Livesey, and Squire Trelawney hang out for an evening in a port in "Spanish America" (which we assume means Central America or the Caribbean). This scene, richly peopled with non-pirates, presents a huge contrast to the island . It also demonstrates biases in the way Stevenson describes people of color. He is setting the scene with a variety of people to show the broadness of Central American/Caribbean culture as compared to orderly, monochromatic English life. But even so, he uses terminology that we find unacceptable in this day and age. While we have said before that Treasure Island seems timeless, when we hit a passage like this, we suddenly come crashing into the realization that it was written in the 1880s and has the racial politics to match.