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Treasure Island

Treasure Island

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Language and Communication Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

"Now," resumed Silver, "here it is. You give us the chart to get the treasure by, and drop shooting poor seamen and stoving of their heads in while asleep. You do that, and we'll offer you a choice. Either you come aboard along of us, once the treasure shipped, and then I'll give you my affy-davy, upon my word of honour, to clap you somewhere safe ashore. Or if that ain't to your fancy, some of my hands being rough and having old scores on account of hazing, then you can stay here, you can. We'll divide stores with you, man for man; and I'll give my affy-davy, as before, to speak the first ship I sight, and send 'em here to pick you up. " (20.37)

Long John Silver is offering Captain Smollett a deal. (The Captain, of course, will have none of it.) We find this an interesting example of Long John Silver's unusual speech, which is a weird mix of slang and officialese. He promises to "clap" them somewhere safe or else to hail a boat and "send 'em here to pick you up." But at the same time, he also promises his "affy-davy" (affidavit, which means oath) to abide by any deal they strike. Long John Silver's language is a puzzle, just like his character: he's got this odd mix of highfalutin' words ("affy-davy") and slang ("clap") that makes it difficult to place him.

Quote #8

"The black spot! I thought so," [Long John Silver] observed. "Where might you have got the paper? Why, hillo! Look here, now; this ain't lucky! You've gone and cut this out of a Bible. What fool's cut a Bible?" (29.10)

Of all the people we might think would respect a Bible, Long John Silver would be the last. As usual, his motives are unclear. We know he is frightened of what appears to be a ghost (but is actually Ben Gunn) later on in the chapter, so he is at least a little bit superstitious. But he's also clearly using this Bible thing to tease poor young, feverish Dick Johnson unmercifully about being cursed. Long John Silver is punishing Dick for giving him the black spot by frightening him half to death.

Quote #9

Indeed, on a second glance, it seemed impossible to fancy that the body was in a natural position. But for some disarray (the work, perhaps, of the birds that had fed upon him or of the slow-growing creeper that had gradually enveloped his remains) the man lay perfectly straight--his feet pointing in one direction, his hands, raised above his head like a diver's, pointing directly in the opposite. (31.24)

As Long John Silver, George Merry, Tom Morgan, Dick Johnson, some nameless dude, and Jim all go searching for treasure, they stumble across a skeleton, which morbidly turns out to be pointing directly toward the treasure. This skeleton is the most literal example of the way that the island itself has become a kind of language. As the pirates and the good guys attempt to find the treasure and fight one another, they keep trying to read the island's clues to find its riches. In this particular language, Ben Gunn proves the only true expert. He's not courageous or intelligent, but he's the only one who knows the island's secrets well enough to have found the treasure on his own.

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