Finally, the group goes to the cave and finds the vast treasure of gold just where Ben left it. Captain Smollett tells Jim that he will never go to sea with him again. They all enjoy a good meal together, with Jim especially happy among his friends.

Summary: Chapter XXXIV

[T]he worst dreams that ever I have are when I hear . . . the sharp voice of Captain Flint still ringing in my ears: “Pieces of eight! pieces of eight!”

See Important Quotations Explained

The next morning, the men begin the difficult task of transporting all the gold down to the Hispaniola. Jim is fascinated by the coins—far more by the variety of their designs and nations of origin than by the wealth they represent. On the evening of the third day of loading the ship, the men discover three of the mutineers, who are either drunk or crazy. The men decide to leave the three mutineers marooned on the island with a small amount of provisions.

As Captain Smollett and his men finally make preparations to embark, the three mutineers kneel before them in submission, begging to be taken on board. Understanding that they are being left behind, they fire at the departing ship, but no one is hurt. Smollett sets course for a port in Spanish America before turning home. The Hispaniola eventually returns to Bristol.

Stepping back from his tale, Jim reports that Captain Smollett is retired from the sea life, that Ben has spent his reward and is now a lodge-keeper, and that Silver crept overboard one night during the voyage with a few bags of the treasure, never to be heard from again. Jim wishes Silver well. He notes that the remainder of the treasure still lies buried on the island, but claims that nothing would ever induce him to take part in another treasure hunt. He says that he still has nightmares of Silver’s parrot crying, “Pieces of eight! pieces of eight!”

Analysis: Chapters XXXI–XXXIV

Spirituality and the treasure come together in these last chapters, as the searching pirates are guided by a dead man and imagine themselves pursued by spirits. Approaching the treasure means approaching death, spirits, and even the Bible, which one of the pirates reads frantically in an attempt to appease the spirits that he believes are haunting them. Though the spirits are merely a trick devised by Livesey, Stevenson nonetheless wants us to make a serious connection between the treasure hunt and spirituality. Stevenson has a skeleton literally point the way to the treasure, reiterating the spiritual significance of the treasure hunt. Likewise, he questions the value of money that one sacrifices one’s integrity trying to find. Stevenson suggests that a man’s greed can cause him to lose part of his humanity. Just as the skeleton is literally a destroyed human, the greedy pirates are doomed to self-destruction. Ironically, the treasure is not even there anymore; the pirates are pursuing fool’s gold, while the real bounty lies hidden elsewhere, waiting for the good men to uncover it.

Additionally, Stevenson questions the actual value of the treasure. Though the treasure is the very thing that prompts the whole adventure, and which gives the island and the novel their names, Jim hardly mentions it at the end. We assume that Jim wins his hard-earned share of the loot, but we are never absolutely certain, because he does not refer to it at all. Indeed, the treasure itself seems insignificant to Jim. Even when the group first finds it hidden away in Ben’s cave, Jim does not think about the pleasure and leisure it can buy, but rather of the “blood and sorrow” it has cost. The treasure is literally a heavy burden to bear when Jim and the men carry it down to the Hispaniola. Later, though Jim is fascinated by the national origins of the coins and their designs, he is uninterested in their financial power or value. Ironically, then, the final lesson of Treasure Island for Jim may be that treasure is not such a prize after all.