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Summary

The Beach of Falesá is a short tale of adventure infused with political and moral conflicts. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the story with black humor to balance out the realism of the main character's struggle to keep his decency in an uncivilized and hostile environment. John Wiltshire, the narrator and protagonist, moves to the island of Falesá and becomes entangled with another white trader, Case, and his two comrades, Randall and Black Jack. Case is the antagonist and cautionary tale of the short story. Wiltshire immediately befriends Case and follows along with his suggested and organized marriage to an islander named Uma. The wedding takes place in a small, filthy store owned by a trader, Randall, and is improperly officiated by another trader, Black Jack. The wedding certificate states that Wiltshire's marriage to Uma was illegal. After the wedding, Wiltshire becomes ostracized from other traders on the island. Not understanding that his wedding had been taboo, Wiltshire gradually learns of the true intentions and dark nature of Case. Case is seen to have supernatural and devilish powers by the local community, as he has killed and driven other traders from the island. Through a series of magic tricks and manipulation, Case creates a devil-like front and gains influence over the islanders. Wiltshire becomes wary of Case and discovers many of his deceptions and unforgivable acts. As Wiltshire discovers Case's lair, he exposes the hoax of Case to the wealthiest chief of the island, Maea. Wiltshire ultimately kills Case in self-defense while he is trying to destroy Case's cave of faux idols. Maea leads a group of locals to find Wiltshire wounded, the cave destroyed, and Case dead. As Wiltshire repairs his relationship with the local natives, Case's comrades, Randall and Black Jack, leave the island. The novel ends with Wiltshire coming into a profitable business and legitimate marriage to Uma.

Summary

(Masterpieces of British Fiction)

Wiltshire welcomed his transfer to the trading station at Falesa after spending four years on a Pacific island where he had no white neighbors. Case and old Captain Randall lived in Falesa. Even though they operated a competing store, Wiltshire was grateful for their presence. At first, he was not disturbed by the fates of his two predecessors. One of them, John Adams, had become ill and died after a period of insanity. The other, Vigours, had left suddenly because of his intense fear of Case and Black Jack.

When Wiltshire first met Case and his black colleague, Black Jack, he was pleased with the clean appearance of both and with the educated speech of the white man. Case was very obliging. He had suggested that Wiltshire get a native wife and had pointed out Uma, a shy, slender girl whom Wiltshire agreed to take. Because Wiltshire did not know the native tongue, Case made all the arrangements with the girl and her mother.

The wedding took place in the store operated by Randall, Case, and Black Jack. This store, a small and filthy place with few supplies other than firearms and liquor, was nominally owned by Randall, a sottish old derelict; but Case was obviously in charge. The marriage service was conducted by Black Jack, who pretended to read the service from a novel and said a few obscene words in English, which Uma could not understand. Case prepared a document, which stated that they were illegally married. At first sight, Wiltshire had been favorably impressed by Uma, and this impression was deepened by her modest and serious demeanor during the ceremony. His long-standing resolve to avoid serious involvement with a native woman was weakening.

A series of mysterious happenings began on the next day. In the morning, Wiltshire discovered a group of natives who were sitting quietly and staring with sorrowful expressions at his house. The crowd increased during the day and did not disperse until evening. On his first day of business, he had no customers; more surprising, not one curious spectator entered his store. On Sunday, attracted by...

(The entire section is 1,654 words.)