Treasure Island | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Treasure Island | Part 4, Chapter 16 : The Stockade (How the Ship Was Abandoned) | Summary



At this point Dr. Livesey takes over the story's narration. He, Squire Trelawney, and a few honest men have been left aboard the Hispaniola with six mutineers. Rather than wait for the other pirates to return, the doctor and the squire's manservant, John Hunter, go ashore in the jolly-boat. There, they use the map to locate an old stockade.

As the doctor thinks over the benefits of this shelter, a cry of violent death rings over the island. He decides on the spot that the stockade will provide better protection than the ship for the remaining honest men. Speeding back to the Hispaniola, he directs the loading of guns, powder, medicine, and food supplies, while the captain and Tom Redruth keep the six pirates at bay.

Before abandoning the ship, Captain Smollett gives the mutineers one last chance to switch sides and give him their loyalty. In particular he appeals to Abraham Gray, who decides to side with the captain.


The full title of this chapter is "How the Ship Was Abandoned; Narrative Continued by the Doctor." In this and the next two chapters, Dr. Livesey assumes the job of narrator to fill in that part of the story that Jim cannot know firsthand. The chapter introduces events leading up to the battle that draws Jim and Ben Gunn to the coast.

Dr. Livesey's point of view takes in the smells of the island, as might be expected of a physician. He also appreciates the log house spring's healthful clear water, recognizes the cry of violent death, and makes sure that his medicine chest is safely transferred to the stockade.

Once again an animal motif is used to reveal the character of two men. It is also used to highlight the difference between them. Captain Smollett calls the traitorous coxswain, Israel Hands, a dog, and Dr. Livesey labels him and his mates "faint-hearted seamen." In this context the term dog is unflattering and conjures the image of a slinking, cowardly animal. On the other hand, the doctor describes Abraham Gray as coming "like a dog to a whistle" when he breaks from his mates to join the honest party. This is a positive comparison, evoking the image of a loyal and trustworthy animal. Once Gray demonstrates that he is a civilized man, the animal motif no longer applies.

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