by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island Friendship Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
It was no wonder the men were in a good humour now. For my part, I was horribly cast down. Should the scheme he had now sketched prove feasible, Silver, already doubly a traitor, would not hesitate to adopt it. He had still a foot in either camp, and there was no doubt he would prefer wealth and freedom with the pirates to a bare escape from hanging, which was the best he had to hope on our side. (31.6)
We've already established that Long John Silver has no loyalty (except possibly to his wife and parrot), so Jim cannot rely on his friendship to keep him alive while he's a hostage of the pirates. Have you observed any signs of unmotivated affection or good feeling coming from Long John Silver? Is it possible to imagine a friend for this man? What does friendship require that Long John Silver does not have with either his pirate crew or with Jim?
"Ah," said Silver, "it were fortunate for me that I had Hawkins here. You would have let old John be cut to bits, and never given it a thought, doctor."
"Not a thought," replied Dr. Livesey cheerily. (33.30-1)
But it's not jut Silver who has learned to be so practical about death. Doctor Livesey agrees that, if Jim had not been along on the final treasure hunt, he and the rest of his friends would have left Long John Silver to deal with the disappointed pirates by himself. Do you observe any changes in Doctor Livesey's moral compass over the course of the novel? Is he the same person at the end of the trip that he was at the beginning?
The three fellows must have been watching us closer than we thought for, as we soon had proved. For coming through the narrows, we had to lie very near the southern point, and there we saw all three of them kneeling together on a spit of sand, with their arms raised in supplication. It went to all our hearts, I think, to leave them in that wretched state; but we could not risk another mutiny; and to take them home for the gibbet would have been a cruel sort of kindness. The doctor hailed them and told them of the stores we had left, and where they were to find them. But they continued to call us by name and appeal to us, for God's sake, to be merciful and not leave them to die in such a place. (34.16)
This scene, in which the three remaining pirates are begging to be taken in by their enemies, is hard to read. We discuss the moral ambiguities of the scene in "What's Up with the Ending?" Here we want to ask why Stevenson elects to include the details that the men on the shore "continued to call [them] them by name and appeal to us, for God's sake, to be merciful"? What is the tone of this final chapter? Does the book offer us any thoughts on our responsibility to our fellow man, or does Stevenson leave us to draw our conclusions about the morality of this choice?