Treasure Island – Chapters 19-21

In general:

It doesn’t seem like pirates – who break more laws than they abide by – would live up to something like honor. Yet, there was a “pirate code” that seemed to offer a semblance of order. Check out these rules from Black Bart Roberts. The idea of “parlay” that we see here with Silver and Captain Smollett probably has less to do with code than with survival, don’t you think?


Discussion questions:

1. As the men prepare and keep watch, Dr. Livesey remarks that Captain Smollett is a better man than he. What brings this thought on? What does he mean?

2. What did you think about the negotiations between Silver and the Captain? What are differences in their bargaining styles? What are similarities?

3. The battle is the first true action we’ve seen so far. What did you think about the level of violence? Stevenson wrote his story for a magazine for boys; what would they have thought about these scenes?

4. How does Jim comport himself in his first battle? Did he do anything that surprised you?


Notes and Quotes:

  • “Silver would fly the Jolly Roger.”

(Here’s the difference between the Captain and Silver in a very symbolic sense. The Captain is loyal to his country, Long John Silver is loyal to the idea of rebellion.)


  • The men of the stockade show thoughtfulness and patience in preparing for potential battle. This contrasts to Silver’s men who were too impatient. An easy way to teach a moral as part of the story to young boys, I think.


  • “Give me a hand up…” Silver asks after his parlay with Captain Smollett.

(Maybe it’s a little too literal, but I like the way Stevenson makes Silver seem weaker and more diminished here. He shouldn’t be exalted…)



If you haven’t played Monopoly for awhile, pull it out and show off your negotiation skills.

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