Treasure Island | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Treasure Island | Part 4, Chapter 21 : The Stockade (The Attack) | Summary

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Summary

Inside the block-house, the muskets are prepared and each man assigned a position. Jim, who is no marksman, is charged with loading spent muskets. Once preparations are complete, the men stand at their posts on high alert and wait for the pirates to come.

When they do, the battle is short and vicious. Each man of the faithful party fights well, but soon they are forced from the block-house to fight out in the open. The boatswain Anderson goes after Jim; Gray, following close, cuts the scoundrel down. So ferocious is their attack, that the pirates retreat, leaving behind five of their comrades; another will die later from his wounds.

Among the faithful party, Joyce has been killed, Hunter is unconscious, and the captain has been badly wounded.

Analysis

Tension is high among members of the honest party. Jim reports that for the first time, Captain Smollett gets angry: their survival depends on their ability to maintain discipline, and they have neglected their duty. As Captain Smollett explains, he has given Silver "a broadside," a nautical phrase describing all guns on one side of a vessel being fired simultaneously at the enemy. He has done so on purpose: they have a shelter for defense, and to delay the inevitable fight is foolish. However, the men must be ready to follow orders. Here again, devotion to duty is the issue, and the captain makes clear why it is important. He also makes no distinction between Jim and the others. He is expected to perform his duty as a man.

Jim fights as bravely as the others, demonstrating his growing confidence and maturity. The cut across the knuckles he receives while grabbing a cutlass might have stopped him before. But he is so intent on putting up a good fight, that he hardly feels it. Also during the fray, he listens and follows orders like a seasoned soldier and courageously remains in the battle until the end.

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