Treasure Island | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Treasure Island | Part 1, Chapter 5 : The Old Buccaneer (The Last of the Blind Man) | Summary



Guided by the blind beggar, the pirates descend on the Admiral Benbow. As Jim watches from a safe distance, the men search the inn from top to bottom. At last the men report to the blind beggar—whose name is Pew—that the dead captain's gold is there, but "Flint's fist" is missing. Sure that Jim has found and taken it, Pew orders the men to spread out and look for Jim and his mother. Content with the gold, they hesitate. Pew curses them for their cowardice and takes to beating them with his stick.

The sound of galloping horses breaks up the fight, and a warning pistol shot from the watchman sends the pirates scattering. Frantically, Pew tries to avoid the coming horsemen but takes a wrong turn and is killed. The riders are revenue officers led by Supervisor Dance, investigating the crisis at the Admiral Benbow.

Jim reveals to Mr. Dance that he has an oilskin-wrapped packet that the pirates were really after. They agree that Jim should take it directly to Dr. Livesey, as he is a magistrate.


Different aspects of courage come into play in this chapter. Raw courage has placed Pew in the role of leader over the pirates who ransack the inn. For the blind beggar, physical disadvantages are no drawback to his courage. This was demonstrated previously, when he fearlessly faced Billy Bones after the more physically capable Black Dog failed and ran. Through force of will and use of his stick, Pew nearly drives the pirates to hunt for the oilskin packet when they were satisfied with Billy's gold doubloons.

Pew's courage is motivated largely by greed, and greed becomes fatal for the blind beggar. While his mates are content with the gold, Pew wants the oilskin packet at all costs. He ignores the lookout's warnings until it's too late, and he becomes a victim of his own greed.

Curiosity is behind Jim's show of courage when he crawls up the bank to watch the goings-on at the inn. "Curiosity," he states, "was stronger than my fear." However, it takes him only a limited way. His courage will be tested more fully later on.

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