Treasure Island


Points to Ponder

  1. In what way is the pirates’ use of the black spot like a child trying to fit a square peg into a round hole?

The black spot represents for the pirates the last vestige of law and order in the otherwise unlawful world of piracy. The use of the black spot by the pirates may be likened to the attempt to fit of a square peg into a round hole because the application of any sort of code or law on the pirate world is futile. As the story shows, the black spot never actually does what it is meant to do. Billy Bones means to refuse it. Long John Silver refuses it as well, evidently more than once. What both characters show is that if one is strong enough, quick enough, or intelligent enough, one can make the black spot go away. This lesson may equally be applied to the square peg and the round hole: The only way to solve the problem is to get rid of one or the other.

  1. The pirates show a predilection for superstition and become apprehensive about the spirits of dead comrades hovering about. Give two examples of this, and explain why it might be so.

One example is of Israel Hands not wanting to look at the dead O’Brien (“red-cap”) and being obsessed with luck and how his luck is always bad. Rather than commend himself to God, as Jim advises, Israel plots to murder Jim. The bent of his mind is toward evil and wickedness, and it may be suggested that his belief in superstition is the natural outcome of one whose conscience has been given no other recourse than to prick the mind with irrational fears. This argument may be sustained by an analysis of the pirates who are with Silver when he encounters the bones of Allardyce. They are afraid that the spirit of Flint might be haunting the island, and their superstitious nature gets the best of them. It is only when Silver’s logic prevails that the men regain their courage. Thus, their superstitious minds are intimately linked...

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Essays About Treasure Island