What is a man vs. society conflict in the book Treasure Island?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Long John Silver's role in the book Treasure Island perfectly illustrates man vs. society conflict.  Silver, who originally seems to be such an admirable fellow in Jim's eyes, reveals himself to be a murderous mutineer when the young boy, while hiding in an apple barrel, overhears him talking to a member of the crew.  Long John's planned mutiny is an example of man vs. society; as he forms an alliance with the pirates, Long John is in opposition to the 'good society' as represented by Doctor Livesey, Trelawney, and Captain Smollet. 

Later as the novel progresses, Silver later finds himself at odds with society again.  Only this time, he enters a conflict with the 'pirate' society over his protection of Jim.  Silver is given the "black spot," as a show of no confidence in leadership, and during the doctors' ambush at the treasure site, Long John switches his allegiance to the doctors' side.

Ultimately, Long John Silver is extremely self-centered in Treasure Island, choosing to align with whichever side will best benefit him.  His ability to switch sides and alliances frequently resulted in multiple 'man versus society' conflicts.


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