Treasure Island | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Treasure Island | Part 5, Chapter 26 : My Sea Adventure (Israel Hands) | Summary



Israel Hands guides Jim as he navigates the Hispaniola and then suggests Jim go down to the cabin for a bottle of port. Suspecting a trick, Jim spies on the pirate and sees him retrieve a long knife from the port scuppers and conceal it in his jacket.

Under Hands's supervision, Jim maneuvers the Hispaniola toward the beach. As the ship swings around to slide to shore, stern first, Jim turns his back on Hands in order to watch the ship touch land. Spinning back around, Jim sees Hands coming toward him, "the dirk in his right hand."

During the ensuing fight, Jim's youth and nimbleness serve him well. Then abruptly, the Hispaniola strikes sand and keels over on her side. Jim, Hands, and the dead O'Brien tumble together, in a heap, into the scuppers. Jim scrambles out and up into the sails of the leaning mizzenmast. Then Israel starts to climb, and Jim warns the pirate to keep his distance. In answer Hands throws his knife and pins Jim's shoulder to the mast. Without thinking, Jim fires both pistols, and Hands plunges head first into the water.


At last Jim takes steps to outmaneuver Israel Hands in order to find out what his odd smile means. Jim is learning to successfully navigate a dangerous, adult world in which things quite often are not what they seem. Thinking like an adult, he understands what Hands is planning once the schooner is beached, and then makes plans of his own.

Throughout this adventure, Jim's courage has been tested time and again. Now, face-to-face and alone with Israel Hands—a personification of evil—he must rely on his wits and physical agility to outmaneuver his opponent. No one else can help him. Clearly, the man is old and physically impaired by his wounds and general weakness. Yet like blind Pew and one-legged Silver, he remains exceptionally dangerous. In their final moments of confrontation, Jim sheds the last of his childishness. He courageously goes man-to-man with the pirate, with never a thought that he is only a solitary boy battling a full-grown man.

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