by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island Youth Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
[Billy Bones] wandered a little longer, his voice growing weaker; but soon after I had given him his medicine, which he took like a child, with the remark, "If ever a seaman wanted drugs, it's me," he fell at last into a heavy, swoon-like sleep, in which I left him. (3.19)
There is a repeated theme in Treasure Island that illness makes us dependent and childlike. First there is Billy Bones's weakness, in which he takes his medicine "like a child." Then there is poor, feverish Dick Johnson, who begins babbling and clutching his Bible toward the end of the novel. He totally goes to pieces as he gets sick and follows the other pirates like a child. How does illness make us more childlike? What does this analogy suggest about how Stevenson feels about childhood?
I lost no time, of course, in telling my mother all that I knew, and perhaps should have told her long before, and we saw ourselves at once in a difficult and dangerous position. Some of [Billy Bones's] money--if he had any--was certainly due to us, but it was not likely that our captain's shipmates, above all the two specimens seen by me, Black Dog and the blind beggar, would be inclined to give up their booty in payment of the dead man's debts. (4.1)
As soon as Billy Bones enters the Admiral Benbow Inn, Jim shows signs of the secretiveness and independent thinking that will characterize his behavior on the island. Jim hasn't told his mother about Billy Bones's origins, although he thinks in passing that "perhaps [he] should have told her long before." This reflection sounds a lot like Jim's passing regret over leaving the fort without permission. Even in this tiny exchange, we can see foreshadowing of how Jim is going to develop as a character over the course of the novel.
It was on seeing that boy that I understood, for the first time, my situation. I had thought up to that moment of the adventures before me, not at all of the home that I was leaving; and now, at sight of this clumsy stranger, who was to stay here in my place beside my mother, I had my first attack of tears. I am afraid I led that boy a dog's life, for as he was new to the work, I had a hundred opportunities of setting him right and putting him down, and I was not slow to profit by them. (7.13)
Jim is leaving the nest, and even though he's ready to go, he still regrets it a little bit once he realizes that it's actually happening. "This clumsy stranger," his mother's apprentice, is a symbol of Jim's own childhood, which he is now leaving behind to go on a treasure hunt. We wish our own transitions from childhood to adulthood had come with gold bars.