by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island Friendship Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
[O'Brien's body] had pitched, as I have said, against the bulwarks, where he lay like some horrible, ungainly sort of puppet, life-size, indeed, but how different from life's colour or life's comeliness! In that position I could easily have my way with him, and as the habit of tragical adventures had worn off almost all my terror for the dead, I took him by the waist as if he had been a sack of bran and with one good heave, tumbled him overboard. He went in with a sounding plunge; the red cap came off and remained floating on the surface; and as soon as the splash subsided, I could see him and Israel lying side by side, both wavering with the tremulous movement of the water. O'Brien, though still quite a young man, was very bald. There he lay, with that bald head across the knees of the man who had killed him and the quick fishes steering to and fro over both. (27.7)
The force of the Hispaniola's impact with the shore tips the ship at an angle so that O'Brien's dead body has fallen right against the sides of the ship. When Jim pushes his body into the water, it lands right on top of Israel Hands's. We put this in the "Friendship" section for the slightly morbid reason that the two men, who were such mortal enemies while alive, are lying together like friends in death. The significance of whatever argument drove Hands to murder O'Brien appears gone now that both are dead.
"Did any of you gentlemen want to have it out with me?" roared Silver, bending far forward from his position on the keg, with his pipe still glowing in his right hand. "Put a name on what you're at; you ain't dumb, I reckon. Him that wants shall get it. Have I lived this many years, and a son of a rum puncheon cock his hat athwart my hawse at the latter end of it? You know the way; you're all gentlemen o' fortune, by your account. Well, I'm ready. Take a cutlass, him that dares, and I'll see the colour of his inside, crutch and all, before that pipe's empty." (28.34)
It's impossible to rule pirates by friendship and decency because they don't trust each other. The only thing that will truly keep them in line is a show of force – and even that will only last for so long. In this scene, Long John Silver is responding to George Merry's claim that he is no longer fit to be captain now that they have lost the Hispaniola and have no treasure to show for it.
It was long ere I could close an eye, and heaven knows I had matter enough for thought in the man whom I had slain that afternoon, in my own most perilous position, and above all, in the remarkable game that I saw Silver now engaged upon--keeping the mutineers together with one hand and grasping with the other after every means, possible and impossible, to make his peace and save his miserable life. He himself slept peacefully and snored aloud, yet my heart was sore for him, wicked as he was, to think on the dark perils that environed and the shameful gibbet that awaited him. (29.43)
Jim's reluctant admiration for his main antagonist, Long John Silver, is really a testament to the strength of Silver's character. Stevenson is working hard to give us a wicked character that we can still (perhaps reluctantly) root for, and he succeeds in part by representing Jim's sympathy for the man. After all, if we identify with Jim, then we should share his sympathies too, right?