Treasure Island | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Treasure Island | Part 2, Chapter 12 : The Sea Cook (Council of War) | Summary



At the cry of "Land ho!" everyone rushes to the Hispaniola's bow. In the distance is an island with three cone-shaped hills, one higher than the others. Silver strolls over to Jim, who nearly shudders now at his closeness, thinking only about telling what he knows to Captain Smollett, Dr. Livesey, and the squire. While the crew enjoys a round of rum being served topside, the three men and Jim meet in the cabin below. Jim quickly tells them about the plot.

When Jim finishes, Squire Trelawney apologizes to Captain Smollett for questioning his instincts, but the question now is what to do. Captain Smollett advises that the time to fight the mutineers is "some fine day when they least expect it." The drawback is that only 7 of the 26 men aboard the ship are trustworthy, and one of those 7 is only a boy.


Jim's dream of adventure has been displaced by reality. And that reality has all the qualities of a nightmare. His imagined adventures never involved the violence of mutiny. Now his first glimpse of Treasure Island is tainted by dreamlike dreadful fear.

By coincidence Silver conjures Jim's childish dreams about the island with his wistful, nostalgic musings about the fun Jim will have ashore. Silver's picture of idealized childhood comes just minutes after the pirate was plotting a cruel death for anyone in his way—including Jim. Once again reality is turning out to be quite different from dreams, and the savagery of the pirate is at odds with his harmless and civilized notions of fun.

Dr. Livesey is Silver's equal when it comes to calm, clear thinking. In some ways he is a foil for Silver. Both men are father figures to Jim. But each represents opposing values and has something different to teach. From the doctor Jim will learn the importance of duty and honor. From Silver Jim will learn survival skills for navigating the real world, where things are not always what they seem.

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