Treasure Island

Rum Symbol Icon

Many of the pirates throughout Treasure Island could well be identified as alcoholics in today’s terms. At the very least, rum is highly important for them, and some pirates are clearly addicted to it—including Billy Bones, who begs Jim to slip him some even when the doctor forbids it. On Treasure Island, meanwhile, many of the pirates stay up late and have drunken revelries organized around drinking rum. The drink is thus associated with the wild lawlessness of piracy. In contrast, Jim, the doctor, and the squire are not just sober but sober-minded, able to outwit the pirates who are weakened by their addiction. Interestingly, Long John Silver is one of the few pirates who seems relatively uninterested in rum, and is certainly unaffected by its power, allowing him to outwit any enemy, including his own men. Jim is only a boy, but he is educated early on into some of the more insidious dangers of adulthood—not just deadly plots and dangers at sea, but also the ways that something like rum that can destroy a person from within. This is a lesson that would have been familiar to many readers in late-nineteenth-century Britain, where Victorian writers often insisted on the immorality of alcohol and alcoholism.

Rum Quotes in Treasure Island

The Treasure Island quotes below all refer to the symbol of Rum. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fortune and Greed Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Treasure Island published in 1999.
Chapter 1 Quotes

I remember him looking round the cove and whistling to himself as he did so, and then breaking out in that old sea-song that he sang so often afterwards:
“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest—
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”

Related Characters: Billy Bones (“the captain”) (speaker)
Related Symbols: Rum
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:
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Rum Symbol Timeline in Treasure Island

The timeline below shows where the symbol Rum appears in Treasure Island. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1. The Old Sea Dog at the “Admiral Benbow”
Fortune and Greed Theme Icon
Father Figures and “Becoming a Man” Theme Icon
Deception, Secrecy, and Trust Theme Icon
...breaks out now and then into a “sea song,” ending “Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!” He drinks lots of rum, and tells Jim’s father to call him captain, but doesn’t... (full context)
Fortune and Greed Theme Icon
Father Figures and “Becoming a Man” Theme Icon
...tells the captain that he’ll drink himself to death if he keeps up with the rum, and the captain, furious, draws a knife against the doctor. The doctor remains calm, however,... (full context)
Chapter 2. Black Dog Appears and Disappears
Father Figures and “Becoming a Man” Theme Icon
Courage, Adventure, and Pragmatism Theme Icon
The captain asks Jim for rum, but soon falls to the floor, his face ashen. Jim’s mother races downstairs and they... (full context)
Courage, Adventure, and Pragmatism Theme Icon
...where Black Dog is. The doctor begins to lecture him about the dangers of drinking rum, and once they get the captain to bed, he tells Jim that another stroke would... (full context)
Chapter 3. The Black Spot
Father Figures and “Becoming a Man” Theme Icon
Deception, Secrecy, and Trust Theme Icon
...grateful he is for the boy’s loyalty, and asks him for just a bit of rum, despite what the doctor said. He claims he’s lived on rum and one glass won’t... (full context)
Fortune and Greed Theme Icon
Deception, Secrecy, and Trust Theme Icon
Courage, Adventure, and Pragmatism Theme Icon
The captain drinks the rum in one swallow, then tries to get up but falls back down. He tells Jim... (full context)
Chapter 10. The Voyage
Deception, Secrecy, and Trust Theme Icon
Courage, Adventure, and Pragmatism Theme Icon
...and most of the crew seems content, especially because they’re often given “double grog” (a rum drink), “duff” (a pudding), and there’s a barrel of apples for anyone who’d like one.... (full context)
Chapter 11. What I Heard in the Apple Barrel
Father Figures and “Becoming a Man” Theme Icon
Deception, Secrecy, and Trust Theme Icon
Courage, Adventure, and Pragmatism Theme Icon
...for an apple. Jim is terrified he’ll be discovered, but immediately Hands suggests they drink rum instead. (full context)
Chapter 19. Narrative Resumed by Jim Hawkins: The Garrison in the Stockade
Fortune and Greed Theme Icon
Courage, Adventure, and Pragmatism Theme Icon
...also notices a group of pirates who, by the sound of it, have been drinking rum. Finally he is able to sneak into the stockade. (full context)
Courage, Adventure, and Pragmatism Theme Icon
...the Hispaniola. All night, they hear the pirates roaring and singing under the influence of rum. But early in the morning, they hear a voice crying, “Flag of truce!”—it’s Silver himself. (full context)
Chapter 25. I Strike the Jolly Roger
Father Figures and “Becoming a Man” Theme Icon
Deception, Secrecy, and Trust Theme Icon
Courage, Adventure, and Pragmatism Theme Icon
...the floor. In the cellar all the barrels are gone, as are most of the rum bottles. He finds one, however, as well as some biscuit, fruits, raisins, and cheese. Jim... (full context)
Chapter 32. The Treasure Hunt—The Voice among the Trees
Deception, Secrecy, and Trust Theme Icon
Courage, Adventure, and Pragmatism Theme Icon
...high voice rings out, singing the classic sailor song, finishing “Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!” The pirates all go pale, and Merry cries that it’s Flint. To Jim, the voice... (full context)