How is fatherhood depicted in Treasure Island in relation to Jim, Long John Silver, and Dr. Livesay?
In the classic novel Treasure Island, Jim Hawkins and his mother find a treasure map in the sea chest of a pirate named Billy Bones. Squire Trelawney and Dr. Livesey determine to take a ship and find the treasure with Jim coming along in the position of cabin boy. Long John Silver, who does not at first reveal his real identity as a notorious pirate planning to mutiny and seize the treasure for himself, signs on as ship's cook.
Jim's father is alive and well at the beginning of the book when Billy Bones first arrives at the inn owned by Jim's parents. By chapter 2, though, Jim's father is ill, and in chapter 3, his father dies.
Dr. Livesey appears early on in the novel at the inn. He shows courage in standing up to the angry and aggressive Billy Bones. Later, when Jim gets the map in his possession, he wants to turn it over to Dr. Livesey and no one else. It is clear that Jim trusts the doctor. However, although the doctor is kind, courageous, and of good morals, his relationship with Jim is marked by formality and aloofness.
On the other hand, although Long John Silver is a scoundrel and a pirate, he is friendly with Jim right away. Though he betrays the squire, the doctor, the captain, and the rest of the ship's company, he looks after Jim throughout the story, assuming a sort of protective fatherhood. This manifests itself especially near the end during the treasure hunt, when Silver passes Jim a pistol for protection against the angry pirates.
In a sense, both Dr. Livesey and Long John Silver assume aspects of fatherhood for Jim. Dr. Livesey, as a courageous man who always speaks the truth as he sees it, plays the role of a strong yet aloof overseer, as a father often is. Long John Silver, despite his many flaws, likes, appreciates, and protects Jim, which are other characteristics of fatherhood.
Jim's father's a pretty weak, nervous type of character during his relatively brief appearance in the story. One thinks of how petrified he was at the very sight of Billy Bones, so even before he passes away, there's a definite need for a father-figure in Jim's life. To some extent, Dr. Livesey and Long John Silver attempt, in their own unique ways, to fill the vacancy, vying for control over Jim's soul. But Treasure Island, as well as being a rollicking tale of adventure, is also a coming-of-age story, and as part of Jim's growing-up process, he quickly acquires sufficient maturity to forge an identity for himself. This identity is a synthesis of the respective personalities of Dr. Livesey and Long John Silver. From the good doctor, Jim learns the value of doing the right thing; and from Long John Silver he learns the importance of taking risks and standing up for yourself.
Jim, the protagonist of the novel, loses his own father early on in the story so it could be said that he is thereafter on the look-out for a substitute father-figure. Although Silver is a villain, at first Jim does not really suspect that he is anything more than a ship's cook and he is so charismatic and affable that the boy warms to him and looks up to him. Even later on when Silver's true nature comes to light Jim retains some admiration for him.
Dr Livesey is the more acceptable and conventional father figure; it is to him that Jim turns after accidentally finding out about Silver's intended mutiny.
These two characters can be viewed as competing father-figures to Jim; it is the socially respectable Livesey that wins out.