“He made himself the most interesting companion, telling me about the different ships that we passed by… and every now and then telling me some little anecdote of ships or seamen or repeating a nautical phrase till I had learned it perfectly. I began to see that here was one of the best of possible shipmates.”
Here, Jim describes his growing bond with Long John Silver while they prepare the Hispaniola to set sail for Treasure Island. While Billy Bones might have been Jim’s first introduction to the sea-faring life, Silver is the first person to actively teach Jim about what life is like at sea and help him prepare for the upcoming journey. As the final line suggests, Jim is immediately captivated by Silver despite only knowing him for a short while.
“Come away, Hawkins… come and have a yarn with John. Nobody more welcome than yourself, my son. Sit you down and hear the news.”
Long John Silver explains that he has become drawn to Jim just like Jim has become drawn to him. Stevenson’s use of the word “son” is important here because it illustrates that Jim is searching for a father figure to replace his own father who dies in the beginning of the novel. Interestingly, Jim’s real father is hardly mentioned when he is alive and is never mentioned again after the one line describing his death. Perhaps Stevenson wanted his readers to determine that men like Silver had a greater impact on Jim than his own father.
“You may imagine how I felt when I heard this abominable old rogue addressing another in the very same words of flattery as he had used to myself. I think, if I had been able, that I would have killed him through the barrel.”
Jim becomes jealous after he overhears the friendly way that Long John Silver addresses a young deckhand while Jim is hidden in the apple barrel. The intensity of Jim’s jealousy reveals just how much he has come to see Silver as a role model. The line is also significant because the betrayal that Jim feels after hearing Silver speak so handsomely to the deckhand prefigures the actual betrayal that Silver will enact by the end of the scene when he helps plan the mutiny.
“I’ll give you a piece of my mind. I’ve always liked you, I have, for a lad of spirit, and the picter of my own self when I was young and handsome.”
Jim has been distressed ever since the scene in the apple barrel because he thinks that Long John Silver never really cared about him. However, Silver reveals the complex nature of his character by acknowledging that he does care for Jim even though he also participated in the mutiny. Stevenson solidifies that Silver genuinely is fond of Jim through the return of the fatherly language that Silver uses to address Jim at the start of the novel.
“Of Silver we have heard no more. That formidable seafaring man with one leg has at last gone clean out of my life; but I dare say he met his old Negress, and perhaps still lives in comfort with her and Captain Flint. It is to be hoped so, I suppose.”
This is one of the last lines in the novel and the final time that Jim mentions Long John Silver. Here, Jim wonders what has become of Silver and wishes him well, indicating the lasting impact that Silver had on Jim. It is worth mentioning that men like Dr. Livesey and Squire Trelawney are notably absent from Jim’s final reflections at the conclusion of his story. As a result, readers are able to determine that Jim views Silver as a more important role model than the two respectable gentlemen in his life, even though he is a pirate.