Discuss the implications of Silver's escaping punishment at the end of Treasure Island.

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Silver’s escape at the end of the story, and Jim’s attitude to this, reflect Silver’s importance as a character. Certainly he is cast as the main villain of the piece, but he is also the most charismatic character in the novel. At first Jim is completely taken in by him and indeed even seems to regard him as some kind of father figure. Even when the full extent of his villainy comes to light, Jim never quite relinquishes his admiration for the man.

Jim does add a moral gloss at the end of the story, after learning of Silver’s escape; he says he hopes that he will live in peace for the rest of his days, ‘for his chances of comfort in another world are very small’ (chapter 34).

Jim therefore expresses the religious and moral opinion that Silver will be punished in the next world, if not in this one, that he will go to hell for his crimes. But still he appears unwilling to say too much against him. Silver has too much charm of his own, and both Jim and the story as a whole, refuse to condemn him outright. If he had been punished, like any conventional villain, it would perhaps have lessened his overall impact, but he remains defiant to the last, and also the most memorable character in the book.

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