“I have only one thing to say to you, sir … if you keep on drinking rum, the world will soon be quit of a very dirty scoundrel!”

These words, which Dr. Livesey addresses to Billy Bones in Chapter I, emphasize the conflict between the civilized world and the lawless criminal world in Treasure Island. Billy has usurped power for himself, as he refuses to pay his bills and assumes that everyone will immediately fall silent whenever he slaps the dining-room table. Billy’s power is, in fact, quite real: Jim’s innkeeper father is too scared of Billy to demand payment, and everyone does stop talking when the seaman slaps the table. Though Billy is a stranger in the area, shows no special virtues, and has no political or financial power, he nonetheless holds an extraordinary and mysterious power over everyone. This power, which Long John Silver also displays, fascinates Jim. Power of this sort is an insult to the civilized world, as it offends the values of order, responsibility, and propriety. The practical Dr. Livesey, who embodies the traditional, ordered world, predicts that the rum will soon kill Billy and declares that the pirates are scoundrels. Livesey judges the pirates through the lens of his own world and its accompanying values. However, by the end of the novel, we learn that both the doctor’s world and the pirates’ world are flawed, and that both worlds can inspire and destroy.