by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island Friendship Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
All the crew respected and even obeyed [Long John Silver]. He had a way of talking to each and doing everybody some particular service. To me he was unweariedly kind, and always glad to see me in the galley, which he kept as clean as a new pin, the dishes hanging up burnished and his parrot in a cage in one corner. (10.14-5)
Obviously it's in Long John Silver's interests to have everybody like him. But does that negate the fact that he has "a way of talking to each" sailor that makes the ship seem like a better place? Even if Long John Silver has ulterior motives, he is still being nice. His ability to be kind, even if it's a mask for his true feelings, makes him a more likable character than pirates like Pew or Israel Hands, who are so cruel that they can't even pretend to be decent.
"'Tain't much use for fools, you may lay to it--that, nor nothing," cried Silver. "But now, you look here: you're young, you are, but you're as smart as paint. I see that when I set my eyes on you, and I'll talk to you like a man."
You may imagine how I felt when I heard this abominable old rogue addressing another in the very same words of flattery as he had used to myself. I think, if I had been able, that I would have killed him through the barrel. Meantime, he ran on, little supposing he was overheard. (11.4-5)
Here's the moment when Jim realizes he's been tricked, when he sees Long John Silver use the same flattery ("you're as smart as paint") on Dick Johnson that he's been using on Jim. But how does Long John Silver know which words will charm each individual? What experiences have come together to forge such a gifted diplomat? Sure, even though this scene fills Jim with so much rage that he "would have killed [Long John Silver] through the barrel" if he could, seeing evidence of Long John Silver's craftiness in action only increases his interest to us.
This was my second folly, far worse than the first, as I left but two sound men to guard the house; but like the first, it was a help towards saving all of us. (22.17)
Here Jim has to justify the fact that he's leaving Squire Trelawney alone to guard the injured Captain Smollett. His explanation is that this second desertion (the first being when he slipped off the Hispaniola with the pirates and met Ben Gunn) turned out to be "a help towards saving all of us." But Jim couldn't have known that his desertion would prove so pivotal and beneficial at the time that he ran away. This is one of only two instances we can think of when Jim bothers to explain his actions from the more knowledgeable perspective of his adult self. (The other is discussed in "Quotes: Youth.") Is Jim's explanation sufficient to justify his abandonment of his friends? Why does he choose not to take his comrades into his confidence? If he had told them his plans, how would they have responded? How might things have turned out differently?