Stevenson’s Treasure Island as a coming of age novel

Stevenson’s Treasure Island – A coming of age novel

Treasure Island is an interesting and popular novel for several reasons. It is full of adventure and thrill and all that you imagine a sea voyage to be filled with. Apart from these things, it is about a young boy Jim and his coming of age. Jim goes on a journey after having found a map to an island where pirates have disposed their treasure. Like Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, Jim has matured a lot by the end and learnt from his ordeal at the sea and grown experienced. He has been through risks and met some of the most dangerous men from the Captain to Blind Pew and the most memorable of all Long John Silver. By the time Jim is back from the island with his party, he has grown up and matured. R L Stevenson’s Treasure Island is one of the most loved coming of age novels which makes for a great reading. Apart from the characters and  setting, the novel is interesting for the pleasant dose of adventure in it.

Jim is an innocent young guy as the novel begins who helps his mother with keeping the inn. This inn is the only source of income for his family that consists only of him and his mother. The thrill in the life of Jim begins with the arrival of the captain whose entry is followed by the entry of the other pirates.  It is like a new chapter opens in his life since Jim does not know that life is going to take a risky and thrilling course from there. He has mature and intelligent gentleman by his side like Captain Smollet and Dr Livesey who care for him. However, the most interesting thing is that the head of the pirates Long John Silver adores young Jim equally. He teaches Jim quite a few things about the sea and exploration. Silver is a deep character and for Jim to understand him is not easy until he has overheard the pirates from inside the barrel.

Stevenson’s characters are charismatic. Even the pirates who are brutal, bloodthirsty buccaneers are honest to their code. They trust Jim and mostly like him until the desire for the treasure has completely overtaken their conscience. As Dr Livesey notes in chapter twelve, “‘Jim here can help us more than anyone. The men are not shy with him, and Jim is a noticing lad.’ So, Jim’s maturation occurs in stages and several thrilling events shape his growth and maturity into a brave young  person who is willing to take charge of the situation. The peak of the action takes place when Jim has killed Israel hands trying to protect himself on the ship. This was an important event that made Jim grow suddenly and become a man who could bear tough situations.

Jim’s relationship with Silver also shows that he is a strong character whom Silver deeply appreciates. Silver does not feel pressed to the kill the guy when other pirates argue with him over it. He has got strong influence over his fellow pirates and he proves it.  Even under pressure, Silver is not willing that the boy needs to be killed. Like the other characters in his party, the sea voyage has turned Jim into an experienced person and by no means would he like to be on a similar adventure again. After returning, he had nightmares of Silver with the parrot on his shoulder. “Oxen and wain-ropes would not bring me back again to that accursed island; and the worst dreams that ever I have are when I hear the surf booming about its coasts or start upright in bed with the sharp voice of Captain Flint still ringing in my ears: ‘Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!’.

Apart from being the narrator, he is the central character in the story and has returned from the voyage rich. He has demonstrated courage and good attitude during the voyage. The people who have returned alive from the voyage appreciate him for his  bravery throughout the ordeal. He is a responsible young lad in everyone’s eyes whom they respect now for his maturity. Fortune has favored Jim and his friends who are rich and happier by the end. For Jim, the voyage has changed his life and matured his outlook. He now understands his world and is considered a reliable and strong fellow. It is like his status has grown and the voyage has left him richer than all others. The Jim from after the adventure is a lot different than the one who took care of customers at the inn before it all happened. Stevenson’s Treasure Island has continued to be a favorite of people of all ages. It holds its own  remarkable place in the line of the coming of age novels.

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.