by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island Questions
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- Jim Hawkins is our narrator for 31 chapters out of 34. Doctor Livesey takes over for three chapters to tell us what's been happening on the Hispaniola while Jim is elsewhere. Still, it's not like Jim never tells us about things he isn't there to witness personally. For example, he summarizes the events leading up to Doctor Livesey's ambush of the pirates in Chapter 33. What would the novel be like if Jim were the only narrator? Why might Stevenson have decided to switch perspectives for these three chapters?
- Why does Stevenson choose to tell the story of Treasure Island from the perspective of a first-person narrator? What would Treasure Island be like if it appeared from the perspective of a less personal third-person narrator? What does Jim Hawkins's perspective add to your experience of the novel?
- With the exception of Jim's mother, who doesn't even get a name, there are no women at all in this novel. Why not? How might Treasure Island be different if Jim Hawkins were Jane Hawkins?
- When Treasure Island was first published in a series of episodes in the magazine Young Folks, its title was The Sea-Cook. This indicates that the main draw of the novel is the rich, intriguing character of pirate Long John Silver. What would Treasure Island be like if the narrator were Long John Silver instead of Jim Hawkins? Why do you think Stevenson leaves Long John Silver's background and origins a mystery?
- The ending of Treasure Island is intentionally ambiguous. We don't know what's happened to the biggest villain in the novel, Long John Silver. But Jim Hawkins says he's glad Silver got away. What do you think of Jim's moral reasoning here? Are you glad that Long John Silver gets away with a bag of cash? How might the tone of the novel be different if he hadn't escaped punishment?
- How does Long John Silver compare to latter-day popular pirates like Captain Jack Sparrow or squid-faced Davy Jones? How might Treasure Island have influenced Pirates of the Caribbean and its ideas of pirate life and character?
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