Treasure Island

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Treasure Island Chapter 28 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
With the light, Jim can see that the pirates have seized the stockade and all its provisions—he thinks his friends must all be dead. There are only six pirates left here, however: five have sprung up to see Jim, while one looks severely wounded. Silver looks paler and sterner than usual, but casually remarks that it’s Jim Hawkins—what a pleasant surprise, he says.
Faced with a new and newly dangerous situation, Jim takes stock of his surroundings, inferring from certain points of evidence that the pirates must be victorious. Silver, in turn, maintains as calm a façade as ever.
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Jim doesn’t respond but only stares Silver in the face. He’s always liked Jim, Silver says, as he tells him that the doctor has cursed Jim as a traitor, so he can’t go back to his friends—he’ll have to join the pirates. Jim believes that his friends are angry, but is relieved to know they’re safe. Silver asks Jim what he thinks of the proposal, though he says Jim can take his time: no one will hurry him.
Jim’s former admiration for Silver has turned into defiant loathing. Silver, though, has spent enough time attempting to charm Jim into believing in his goodness that he’s still confident Jim might turn to his side.
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Emboldened by this, Jim demands to know how they’ve seized the house and where his friends are. Silver tells Jim that Dr. Livesey had met him the day before with a flag of truce, pointing out that the ship was gone, and it was time to bargain. This is the result: the pirates have the stores, brandy, log-house, and firewood. He doesn’t know where the other side has gone. But Dr. Livesey hadn’t included Jim in the bargain, Silver says—he no longer cared about him.
Jim is not exactly at an advantage here, but given Silver’s friendly façade, he thinks he can use this act to his own advantage in gaining information about his friends. Silver, in turn, continues trying to convince Jim that the others consider him as a traitor, so there’s no point in returning to them.
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Jim declares that he cares little what might happen to him—he’s seen too many die as a result of Silver’s mischief. But he says that Silver is not exactly in a state of victory: he’s lost the ship, treasure, and many of his men. Jim says it was he himself who hid in the apple barrel that night and informed the others of Silver’s treachery; he cut the cable and killed the men aboard the Hispaniola; and he steered the ship into hiding. Now he’s the one who can laugh—he has no more fear of Silver, who can kill him or spare him. He concludes by saying simply that if he’s spared, he’ll try his best to save the pirates in court as a witness.
Jim, by now, recognizes Silver’s conniving manipulations for what they are, and refuses to be affected by them. He wants to make it clear that he’s not a naïve child, but rather a key player in the entire fight between the captain’s men and the pirates. Still, his defiant speech ends with a small olive branch: Jim is calculating that this possibility may just be enough to make the pirates consider saving his own life.
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The men are staring at Jim as he asks Silver to let the doctor know how he died, should it come to that. Silver agrees in a strange tone. Morgan, one of the pirates, remembers that it was Jim who recognized Black Dog, and who found Billy Bones’s map: Jim has thwarted them at every turn. Morgan springs up and draws his knife. Silver orders him to stop, forbidding him to take another step, or he’ll kill Morgan himself.
Thanks to Jim’s revelations about his own actions, the pirates now realize that, indeed, though just a boy, Jim has been able to manipulate them more than they ever recognized. Silver, too, seems to understand this, even though his reaction is entirely opposed to Morgan’s.
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Morgan pauses, but the others murmur restlessly that Morgan is in the right. Silver bends forward, threatening them to have it out with Morgan, despite his disabled state. No one moves, so Silver says they must obey. He’s never seen a better boy than Jim, he says—Jim is more a man than any of these pirates, and he forbids anyone from hurting him.
This is the first moment at which we witness rumblings of discontent among the pirates regarding their new pledged captain. While Silver recognizes that Jim worked against them, he sees his own courage and quick wit in the boy and respects him for it.
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After a long silence, one of the men says that the crew is dissatisfied, upset with such bullying, and he asks for a council outside without Silver. One by one each man slips out, leaving just Silver and Jim. Silver whispers that Jim is close to death, but he’ll stand by him if Jim does agree to witness for him. Jim begins to realize that all is lost—Silver confirms that the “fools and cowards” of the pirates are now mutinying against him. He’s now on the squire’s side, he tells Jim. He imagines that Hands and O’Brien turned soft—he never much trusted them, and he’s always known when a game is up. Finally, he asks Jim why the doctor gave him (Silver) the map. Jim is flabbergasted, but Silver insists that he did.
The pirates have followed Silver faithfully (though as part of their betrayal of the captain) until now, when it seems to them that Silver is preferring a boy, and part of the enemy besides, to his own crew. Suddenly and improbably, Jim and Silver find themselves on the same side again, and Jim struggles to understand Silver’s easy betrayal of his crew. Something else the two share is confusion regarding the doctor’s actions: neither understands why he would have given away their one advantage.
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