Treasure Island | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Treasure Island | Part 2, Chapter 8 : The Sea Cook (At the Sign of the Spy-glass) | Summary

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Summary

After breakfast Squire Trelawney sends Jim to the Spy-glass tavern. He is to deliver a note to the landlord, Long John Silver. As Jim hands over the squire's note, Silver loudly identifies him as "our new cabin-boy." Instantly, a customer across the room exits the nearest door—but not before Jim recognizes him as Black Dog. Silver tells Jim that he knows Black Dog only as an occasional customer who keeps company with a blind beggar. Passionately he swears that such a man should be keel-hauled, meaning roped and dragged through the water, under the keel of a ship.

Silver's performance is convincing, confiding to Jim that he is afraid Black Dog's presence could shake the squire's confidence in him. He decides that he and Jim should go right away to report the affair to "Cap'n Trelawney." They find the squire with Dr. Livesey and make their report, and it is agreed that nothing more can be done.

Analysis

Jim's first encounter with Long John Silver shifts constantly between suspicion and trust. It's an early indication that Silver is not what he appears to be.

Jim knows Billy Bones feared a one-legged seafaring man. Also, he knows Silver lost a leg while serving in the Royal Navy, and yet, Jim's first sunny impression of Silver reassures him that this could not be the monster of his nightmares. When Black Dog appears in the tavern, Silver clears himself of any cloud of doubt before it appears by himself suggesting they tell the squire about it before he hears it elsewhere.

At this point Silver is an enigma. He seems sincere when he denounces Black Dog. But he knows more than he should about the pirate, such as the man's frequent companion, Pew. This raises several questions: Is Silver trying to protect his new job and reputation with Squire Trelawney? Or is he up to something more sinister?

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