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Free Study Guide for Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson-BookNotes

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CHAPTER 4: The Sea Chest


Jim tells his mother all he knows about the chest. With the Captain dead, the chances of recovering the money are dim though not impossible. They have to act fast before the Black Dog and the blind beggar return and grab it. The thought of staying alone in the inn, with a dead body and the danger of the place being ransacked by the Captainís old mates terrify them both, but they are owed money for the Captain's stay in their Inn. Seeking help to protect them from these desperate men, Jim and his mom approach the people from the town to assist them. Much to their dismay, the village folk not only refuse but also discourage them. The mention of the pirate Captain Flint brings fear to those who have heard of him. They relate this within the presence of some strange men on the road.

Jimís mother jeers at the men of the village calling them chicken-hearted and decides that she will undertake the task herself as-Jim, a now fatherless boy-rightly deserves the money they presumed to be kept in the sea chest. A loaded pistol, a bag from Mrs. Crossley, and saddled horses is the only help offered. No one will assist them.

They return to the Inn and are relieved to see the door still bolted, Jim and him mother enter the inn. He discovers the "black spot" when he finds a small piece of paper with a short message. The message, though unclear, gives them some kind of hope as it says that they have until ten that night. Jim finds the key to the chest hung around the Captainís neck. Jimís mother opens the chest and under a heap of miscellaneous things his mother finds a canvas bag which jingles with coins.

Determined to collect only the amount due to them, Jimís mother begins to count. Soon she realizes that this is a mammoth task as the coins are from different countries. Jim is terrified when he hears the tapping sound of the blind beggar's walking stick approaching and asks his mother to quickly grab the entire bag. Stubborn as she is, she refuses to take even a dime more than what she deserves. Jim rushes outside. They hear hurried footsteps approaching them. Sensing the approaching danger, Jimís mother faints but he manages to drag her to safety in the thick fog as the men approach.


With his father and the Captain dead, Jim is left alone in the house with his mother. Jim, unable to handle the load of information he had accumulated by observing Bill and his activities, buckles under pressure. He decides to tell his mother everything he knows. And his mother decides to open the chest to recover the money, which she feels Jim rightly deserves. When they turn to their neighbors for help their request is turned down. At this point, Jim finds his mother taking a strong stand to do things herself.

Stevenson strategically plans his scene by keeping in mind the moral lesson the reader can learn by such a move. Giving the right development to Jimís character, he is now projected as a proud son of a confident and daring lady who displays courage during testing times. As the two embark on their fearless venture to open the sea chest, Jim takes the role of a grown up man.

The initially fearful character of Jim now takes shape as a daring young boy who tears open the dead Captainís shirt to get the key hanging around his neck.

Jimís inherited honesty is also demonstrated by his mother when she is insistent on taking the exact amount which the Captain owed them.

As the Chapter ends, you get the feeling that Jim has already started a journey--a kind of a self-discovery. And again, as the chapter ends, Stevenson, prods the reader to ask him/herself , ĎWhat next ?í

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