Summary: Chapter XI

Hiding in the apple barrel, Jim overhears Long John Silver telling several other crewmembers about some of his adventures with old Flint. Silver mentions that he has nearly three thousand pounds safely hidden away in the bank, gained from his exploits with the other “gentlemen of fortune,” which Jim correctly guesses is just another word for pirates. Jim learns that most of old Flint’s former crewmembers are on board the ship now, posing as ordinary crew but plotting to take the treasure for themselves. Silver mentions that some of the other crewmembers have joined the conspirators, though others have refused. Jim watches the pirates partake of a secret stash of rum. As the men drink, the cry of “Land ho!” is heard from on deck.

Summary: Chapter XII

With the island visible before them, Smollett and his crew discuss the best place to drop anchor. Smollett consults a map of the island, and Jim notices that it is an exact copy of the treasure map he saw before, but without the “X” marking the treasure’s hiding place. Silver knows the island well, and offers advice, enthusiastically telling Jim how much he enjoys the island. Smollett congratulates the crew on a job well done, and then meets with Trelawney below deck. Later, Jim goes below deck and warns Smollett and Trelawney about Silver’s criminal intentions, telling them what he overheard while hiding in the apple barrel. Trelawney immediately admits that he has been a fool in hiring the crew and trusting Silver. Smollett urges everyone to stay vigilant.

Analysis: Chapters VII–XII

As the journey to Treasure Island unfolds, and the familiar landscape of England gives way to the contours of the unknown island, boundaries and roles become more ambiguous. The crew that earlier seems docile and friendly now seems resentful and sour, even hostile. The first mate, Mr. Arrow, whom Trelawney initially likes very much, is revealed to be a useless drunkard after only a few days at sea. Likewise, Silver is not the staunch supporter of the captain that he initially appears to be. The conversation Jim overhears shows that Silver and a majority of the ship’s crew are thoroughly disloyal. Even Jim’s role on the ship turns out to be very different than originally planned, as he quickly breaks out of the limited role of a mere cabin boy. Livesey calls Jim the most useful person on the ship, as he is perceptive and not suspected by the conspirators. As we see the once-loyal crew shift to the side of the mutineers and the cabin boy become a hero, we see that human character is indeed quite malleable.

These changing roles on the ship challenge established ideas about social hierarchy and authority, and give precedence to a nontraditional set of values. The old order and power structure gives way to a new one that is based on strength and charisma. Before the voyage begins, Squire Trelawney is clearly in the position of greatest control and resents the fact that Captain Smollett does not show him what he considers due respect. Mr. Arrow, as first mate, occupies a position only slightly subordinate to Trelawney. Jim, as the cabin boy, is on the lowest rung of the power ladder, and Silver, as the ship’s cook, also seems to be a minor figure. Immediately after the ship sets sail, however, Silver wins Jim’s respect with his nimble one-legged movement around the deck, while the authority of the boozy first mate Mr. Arrow quickly collapses. When Trelawney finally admits that he was a fool to trust the crew, the old system of power relationships and authority finally unravels. Now, Stevenson suggests, a new society must develop—not according to the inherited titles and wealth that have given power to men like Trelawney, but according to the very different principles of cleverness, fortitude, and perceptiveness.

Stevenson develops the character of Long John Silver intensely in these chapters, and shows him to be a very complex man. On the one hand, Silver’s motivation for seeking the treasure is no different from what motivates Trelawney and Livesey: greed and a love for the pirate life. Indeed, Silver is merely after money in the bank and a life of leisure ahead—the kind of life Trelawney already enjoys. Though Silver may be looking for fortune the wrong way, his goal of having a good life for himself is not in itself criminal. On the other hand, however, Silver displays an ability to mask his true feelings and motives to an almost devilish degree, raising a cheer for the captain whom he secretly hates, fooling everyone with his fake applause. Though Jim knows Silver is disappointed to see the map with no “X” on it, Silver shows no signs of this disappointment. He is a master of duplicity in a way that approaches evil. Indeed, Silver himself refers to this evil side, remarking in Chapter X about all the “wickedness” his parrot has seen.