Treasure Island

Treasure Island Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Smollett turns back inside, only Gray is still at his post, and while he’s pleased with Gray, he’s furious with the others. The captain is silent for a while, and then says that within an hour they’ll be bombarded: they’re outnumbered, but are better located defensively.
All the others, including Jim, have snuck over to listen to the captain and Silver, failing to remain at watch. That task will become increasingly important, as their main advantage is a defensive one.
Themes
Father Figures and “Becoming a Man” Theme Icon
Courage, Adventure, and Pragmatism Theme Icon
Captain Smollett tells Jim to eat his breakfast, and everyone to have some brandy. He directs each person to a specific task for the battle. As the sun rises, it becomes almost unbearably hot. An hour passes. Suddenly they hear a whistle, suggesting the attack is about to begin. Then several bullets strike the log-house, though none of them enter—Joyce returns a few shots, and then silence returns.
The captain takes on the role of directing others on land just as he did aboard the ship. Jim is still growing accustomed to what battles are like—they involve a good amount of boredom and sitting still, but can be interrupted suddenly by terrifying action.
Themes
Father Figures and “Becoming a Man” Theme Icon
Suddenly, with a roar, a group of pirates races out of the woods and towards the stockade. They hurl themselves over the fence, and as the squire and Gray fire, three of them fall (though one soon rises and flees). Then they see Job Anderson, the boatswain, who has snuck up to the entrance. He and two others race into the log-house, and cries of confusion ring out. Smollett cries that they should go out and fight in the open. Jim grabs a knife, receives a cut across the knuckles, and races outside, seeing the doctor pursuing a pirate down the hill and managing to stab him.
Here the first head-to-head battle between the captain’s men and the pirates begins. The first onslaught of pirates seems to fail at overcoming the log-house, but given the pirates’ advantage in numbers, they’re able to mount various assaults at once. Even while Jim participates in the fight, he also remains acutely aware of the need to watch others, like the doctor, and learn from their tactics.
Themes
Courage, Adventure, and Pragmatism Theme Icon
Jim is suddenly face to face with Anderson, who roars and raises his knife: Jim leaps to the side, but slips and rolls down the hill. By the time he stands up, it’s only been a moment, but his side has won victory: Gray had stabbed Anderson, and two others had been struck down too. Only one remains alive, and he clambers up and flees, managing to escape. The doctor, Gray, and Jim race back inside.
Jim’s first face-to-face fight allows him to use his advantages of being young, small, and nimble, such that he can quickly slip out of the way of danger—here, he’s able to avoid Anderson long enough for Gray to make use of the boatswain’s momentary weakness and kill him.
Themes
Father Figures and “Becoming a Man” Theme Icon
Courage, Adventure, and Pragmatism Theme Icon
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Hunter is motionless, stunned; Joyce is dead, shot through the head; and Smollett is wounded. But the captain rejoices to hear that five of the enemy have been cut down; the new odds are four to nine, having so recently been seven to nineteen.
Jim takes stock of the losses on his side. The captain, again, can seem coldly calculating, with little regard for suffering, but it’s all in pursuit of survival for all of them.
Themes
Courage, Adventure, and Pragmatism Theme Icon