Treasure Island – Chapters 13-15

In general:

To be marooned – trapped or abandoned in an isolated place – can be a scary prospect. There have been movies, books, and even television shows (Gilligan’s Island!) that depict events like this, but the emotions behind it come down to a very human fear of being left alone. Right now, there are probably some of us who feel that way, so maybe we have a bit more sympathy for Ben Gunn!

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Discussion questions:

1. What happens to the idea of discipline as the men accept Silver as captain in anticipation of going ashore? Why does Smollett get out of the way?

2. Compare the expectations Jim (and others) had about Treasure Island to its reality. Does what Jim heard in the apple barrel color his perceptions? How?

3. Chapter 14 is entitled “The First Blow,” referring to the first deaths as Silver’s men begin their campaign. What impact does this have on Jim? on Silver? Though this is not the first violent death Jim as seen (he also watched Pew die), how is this one different for him?

4. Jim begins to lament having gone ashore. Should he have? Is he protected in any way by his friendship with Silver? Does Silver suspect that Jim knows about his intentions?

5. We meet Ben Gunn – what are your impressions of him? Will he be an ally for Jim, and should Jim trust him?

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Notes and Quotes:

  • “‘I don’t know about treasure… but there’s fever here.;” – Doctor Livesey

(Like this double meaning here. The doctor may be referring to some sort of disease he can smell in the air, but undoubtedly greed is also a fever!)

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  • “I began to prefer the dangers that I knew to those I knew not.”

(Jim is trapped between what might be on the island and Silver – which is the greatest danger?)

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  • “‘ And Jim,” – looking all around him, and lowering his voice to a whisper, – “I’m rich.'”

(How good are Ben’s riches if he can’t get off the island? Puts wealth in a bit of a perspective here.)

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More:

Some of you may have participated in team-building exercises that ask you to imagine you’re stranded and must prioritize supplies. Try this one on your own or with friends and family. Or, if you’re a Gilligan’s Island fan, check out the “lost” pilot episode, with several different cast members and a completely different theme song!

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