Treasure Island was probably the first fiction novel I've read in years. I've always been of the opinion that there are so many good stories throughout history that I didn't need fiction to find a good read. This slowly changed as I had a brief obsession with Pirates due to the video game "Sea of Thieves". The game has been a bit of an escape from reality for me and I slowly found myself interested in all things related to the open seas. So when Audible had Treasure Island free to their users, I couldn't pass it up.
Fiction books are a little harder to write a report about. It's hard to explain the wonder of getting lost in a different reality, to put thoughts on developing relationships with characters that aren't real. It's not like non-fiction where you can provide little nuggets of useful advice and you want to be a little more careful about spoiling a good story. For these reasons I'm simply going to quote a few passages from the book that I found interesting. I would fully encourage you to read the book yourself.
The first quote takes place with a stereotypical dreamer teen who dreams of a life more than what his parents have. Jim Hawkins, the main protagonist, is talking with his mother after getting an offer to be part of Squire Trelawney's crew as they search for a treasure on a map Jim came across in the story.
Jim Hawkins: "I have to go. I can't, I won't live like father. Locking myself tight between four walls to hide from the wide world that's right outside. Living and dying my whole life in the dark. The sea glittering a few steps away."
Despite being a common theme. This resonates painfully with me. Through my studies in history I have long desired to see something beyond the little 50 mile radius that I have not left in around four years. I'm no where near a sea but I look out over the western horizon and daydream of places I've read about. Dreams about a different time and place with customs different from my own.
Without spoiling too much of the story, the next scene takes place following a mutiny. A portion of the crew escapes and takes up defense in a bunker. Following a particular brutal gun fight in which a number of the crew perished, Trelawney sits injured on the same floor where a member of his household lay dead from the adventure he dragged him on.
Squire Trelawney: "A good man. Faithful to my family his whole life long. Like Joyce, like Redruth. And I as good as killed them all. Treasure, Treasure; What treasure is there in this? Other than this scarlet gold of theirs spilled every which way."
Trelawney is weighed down by the realization that he's been responsible for the spilled blood of those around him. The blood of friends, family and crew, the true treasure.
We as humans have a tendency to not value what we have always had. This is a commonly quoted philosophy to the level that is has become almost cheesy to discus. To take a slightly different angle on a common thought, sometimes I think that we become so swept away by the flow of life. The stresses, the fears, work, money etc; that we suddenly realize that we've lost treasure in the pursuit of worldly riches, power, or survival.
As Jim and Gray finish burying their dead crew mates, Jim feels he should offer a prayer of some sort. The exchange that follows with Gray, an old sea dog, I find personally relatable.
Gray: A prayer Jim? These lips and tongue of mine are too parched with sand and sea-salt and dried blood for me to get one out. No seaman really believes that kind of thing anyway. When he's faced the sea and the unbroken wind, and knows how thinly he's hung above the blackest depths, The sailor knows the divinity that shapes and cradles his world. And it's no divinity you can say a prayer too. You may as well spit into the gale as one sails it. But you say a prayer Jim if it makes a difference to you.Jim Hawkins: I'm not sure I should. I think this island is a kind of hell. And I'm not sure it's right to say a Christian prayer in hell.Gray: Maybe not. I ain't theological, but I have heard of hell. It don't sound so different from the kind of places greedy men have sailed me.
Metaphorically, we're all sailors sailing the open sea. We sail on the dark sea of life and there's nothing that is stopping the forces of the sea from ending our voyage at any moment. To Gray the only power that exists is that of the Sea. The Sea hears no prayers, and we’re at it’s indifferent mercy.