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Treasure Island

Treasure Island


by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Skeleton Pointer

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

In Chapter 31, as the remaining pirates go in search for the treasure under Long John Silver's leadership, they find a neatly laid-out human skeleton. It's too neatly positioned to be natural, so the pirates realize that it's a clue, a pointer toward Captain Flint's treasure. The pirates manage to identify the skeleton as that of a former crewmember, Allardyce. They feel no grief for the man himself, but his skeleton reminds the pirates (and the reader) of just how much violence and human life this treasure has cost. Sure, Captain Flint may have acquired a fortune in gold that his crew is seeking even now to find, but, as the nameless pirate of the final five comments: "Dear heart, but he died bad, did Flint!" (31.33). The skeleton pointer provides an opportunity for the pirates to reflect: is any amount of gold worth this price? (Because they're pirates, they decide that, yes, it sure as heck is, and keep going.)

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