Treasure Island | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Treasure Island | Part 5, Chapter 22 : My Sea Adventure (How My Sea Adventure Began) | Summary



The pirates do not return to renew their attack. Dr. Livesey attends to the three wounded men; the first two die of their wounds, and Captain Smollett's injuries remove him from all action in the near future. After the midday meal, Jim and Gray observe the doctor leaving the stockade, presumably to meet with Ben Gunn.

Overcome by restlessnes,s Jim decides to stuff his pockets with biscuits and "to take French leave." His objective is to find a small boat that Ben Gunn claims to have built and hidden. Not only does Jim slip away without permission, but he leaves only two well men to guard the house.

Jim makes his way to the shore and, for a time, spies on the doings of the pirates. Then when night comes, he crawls to where Gunn's boat is likely hidden. There Jim finds a roundish, roughly made craft, barely big enough for a grown man and somewhat like an ancient coracle. However, it is light and portable, which gives Jim a fresh idea. If he slips out under the cover of night, he can get close to the Hispaniola, cut her loose from her anchor, and let her drift ashore, where she will get stuck.


Jim demonstrates a contradictory combination of childishness and maturity as events proceed. More and more he is demonstrating a tendency toward self-determination and is thinking for himself, though not always wisely. In contrast to the time when he followed orders without question, he now rebels when it suits him. The juvenile quality of this behavior contrasts with the more mature act of cutting loose the Hispaniola.

The term "French leave," stems from a mid-18th century French custom of leaving a formal gathering without bidding the host or hostess good-bye. When Jim slips away from the stockade, he opens the door to danger for himself and others. Yet, as he indicates, things somehow work out, suggesting that fate steps in again to turn his folly into good fortune.

Jim spends some time observing the goings-on in the pirates' camp. His description sharply contrasts what he sees to the portrayed activities at the stockade. At the stockade the men go about trying to clean up after the battle, save lives, have an orderly meal, and tend to business. The pirates, on the other hand, are drinking and carousing around a bonfire on the beach, and watchmen on the Hispaniola have been left stranded without a boat. This marked difference between civilized and brutish behavior suggests that the pirates don't stand a chance against their disciplined enemies.

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