by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island Youth Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
I had not then seen a coracle, such as the ancient Britons made, but I have seen one since, and I can give you no fairer idea of Ben Gunn's boat than by saying it was like the first and the worst coracle ever made by man. But the great advantage of the coracle it certainly possessed, for it was exceedingly light and portable. (22.27)
This quote is one of the few moments when Jim alludes to his later life after the novel ("I have seen one since"). What on earth could Jim be doing with his time that he has now observed "a coracle, such as the ancient Britons made?" Why do you think Stevenson introduces this time lag between the Jim narrating Treasure Island and the Jim experiencing Treasure Island?
Well, now that I had found the boat, you would have thought I had had enough of truantry for once, but in the meantime I had taken another notion and become so obstinately fond of it that I would have carried it out, I believe, in the teeth of Captain Smollett himself. This was to slip out under cover of the night, cut the Hispaniola adrift, and let her go ashore where she fancied. I had quite made up my mind that the mutineers, after their repulse of the morning, had nothing nearer their hearts than to up anchor and away to sea; this, I thought, it would be a fine thing to prevent, and now that I had seen how they left their watchmen unprovided with a boat, I thought it might be done with little risk. (22.35)
These guerilla actions against the pirates seem to come completely out of the blue. Sure, Jim says he "thought it would be a fine thing to prevent" the mutineers from escaping, but it's quite a jump from that to rowing out to the boat and setting it adrift. Do we see any signs that Jim is learning how to fight pirates from experience, or is he just naturally gifted at waging war against a small band of bloodthirsty criminals?
"Come in, Jim," said the captain. "You're a good boy in your line, Jim, but I don't think you and me'll go to sea again. You're too much of the born favourite for me" (33.41)
It's a little unclear what Captain Smollett means by "the born favourite." Does he mean Jim is too lucky? Too independent? Too disobedient? Certainly we can see why a by-the-book captain like Smollett would find Jim too much of a handful to manage, but we're also intrigued by Captain Smollett's description of Jim as "a good boy in [his] line." This implies that there are other boys like Jim out there. Perhaps this is another subtle suggestion to us by Stevenson to imagine ourselves like Jim or in his place.