Treasure Island | Study Guide

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Treasure Island | Part 6, Chapter 34 : Captain Silver (And Last) | Summary

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Summary

The next morning work begins on transferring the gold to the Hispaniola. It continues for three days, unmolested by the three remaining mutineers.

Before leaving the island for good, a council is held and the decision made to leave the three mutineers marooned on the island. However, the maroons will be left with provisions and supplies.

During a stop at the nearest island port to hire more ship hands, Silver disappears, taking only a bag of coins. No one is disappointed. The rest of the cruise goes smoothly, and the ship arrives safely in Bristol, though only five of the original passengers and crew are returning.

Analysis

To the end, Dr. Livesey is guided by duty. Silver dissuades him, demonstrating again his understanding of the nature of evil: that innocence has trouble recognizing evil, and evil may recognize innocence, but does not actually believe in it. This awareness allows Silver to slip convincingly from one self-serving position to another and to seem believable in whatever role he assumes.

There is moral ambiguity in the decision to leave the three mutineers behind on the island, yet the others cannot risk bringing the men along on the voyage home. They are unpredictable, at best, and if tempted by the gold aboard, they could turn mutinous once more. Moreover, they may survive life on the island, but will hang for certain for their crimes if they return to England. Even so, they are men, capable of fear and suffering. It's a moral dilemma with no painless solution.

Finally, Jim notes that everyone uses their newfound wealth "wisely or foolishly, according to our natures." With the exception of Ben Gunn, the men seem to have put it to good use. This suggests that money, separate from corrupting influences of greed, can have positive attributes. He imagines that Silver has used his small theft wisely.

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