Character and Point of View
These short essay questions on Treasure Island all deal with specific character decisions and narrative point of view. Before giving these to your class, be sure to discuss the meaning of point of view, as well as the ways that authors use point of view to affect the way their story comes across to readers. You'll also want to discuss round and flat characters, as well as static and dynamic characters.
1. Captain Smollett and Long John Silver are almost complete opposites when it comes to leading a ship. Compare and contrast their notion of right and wrong, based on the way they lead their ships.
Note: It may be helpful for the students to use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the men's leadership styles, including personality traits and specific actions in the story. After they've made the diagram, they're ready to move into organization of the essay.
2. It's interesting that Robert Louis Stevenson chose a child to tell this story. In what ways would the story be different if one of the adult characters, such as Captain Smollett or Long John Silver, had told the story?
Note: Ask your students to think about the ways in which Jim sees the world differently than the older sailors do. That difference will be a good springboard to get them writing.
3. Why do you think that Stevenson has Ben Gunn discover the treasure first -- without even the aid of a treasure map? Why does Stevenson turn the typical pirate story line upside down to render this ending?
Note: Ask your students whether Ben Gunn is happy with all of his riches. If they say that he is unhappy, ask them what has made him that way. This will point them in the direction of an effective response.
4. Would you describe Long John Silver as a flat or round character? Why?
Note: Long John Silver may be a villain, but he's a lot more than a villain. In the novel, Stevenson goes to great pains to paint him as an almost sympathetic creature, instead of another skull-and-crossbones buccaneer. This would seem to give him more than one "side," making him round.