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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
CHAPTER 15: The Man of the Island
Jim is suddenly aware that he is being trailed by a creature. He cannot tell if it is a man, a monkey, or a bear, but he is terrified. He thinks that he would prefer to die at the hands of Long John Silver, than some strange creature and retraces his steps to the boat. The figure reappears and Jim finds the creature running like a man. Jim suddenly realizes that he had forgotten he has a loaded pistol for his defense. Jim confidently approaches the man hiding behind the tree trunks. The man comes out into the open and kneels in front of Jim. The man tells Jim that his name is Ben Gunn and that he is a Christian.
Jim observes that he is white man. Tanned, ragged and uncouth, he is covered in pieces of an old ship's canvas held together with brass buttons and bits of stick. He tells Jim that he was marooned here three years ago and has not spoken to a man since. He has lived on berries, oysters and goats and that he was yearning for a piece of cheese. He asks Jim if he has any with him at the moment. Jim promises him to get it if he gets on board again. Then, Jim hears the strangest thing from him. Ben Gunn proclaims that he is rich and he will make Jim rich too. Ben Gunn inquires if the ship anchored here belonged to Captain Flint. Jim tells him that Flint is dead but there are Flint's men on board. When Jim mentions Silver's name Ben Gunn recognizes him.
Jim tells Ben Gunn about his voyage. He tells Jim that he is a good lad and asks if the Squire was liberal minded, and would he agree to give him a thousand pounds and a ride back home if he helps them.
Jim said that they were all going to share, so yes. Ben Tells Jim about his voyage with Flint while he buried his treasure. At that time he had served as a mate with Bill Bones and Silver. He also tells Jim that he was marooned on the island by a group of other sailors, when he had returned to find the treasure, and failed to find it. To get to the ship, Ben Gunn says that he has made a boat which will help them.
Just then they hear the thunder of a cannon and small arms fire. They run for their lives. As they run Ben Gunn keeps on talking about things Jim couldn't comprehend. Not far away from them they see a Union Jack flutter.
Jim's run for life brings him face to face with an unbelievable reality. He is terrified when he sees a creature moving in the bush. He feels stuck in-between the devil and the deep sea. But he prefers the devil and decides to go back to the mutineers when the figure again makes a sudden appearance. Jim notes that it is a man. He remembers the gun he carries. This makes him feel courageous and he proceeds toward the Man. Time and again, Stevenson reminds the reader of Jim's boldness. Thus Jim is able to handle his chance meeting with Ben Gunn.
The details about Gunn's life are harrowing. They reveal the greed and cruelty of sailors, mainly pirates. He tells Jim that he was marooned three years ago and hasn't had a Christian diet for three years. His longing for a good meal is revealed when he begs Jim for a piece of cheese. Jim promises him this if he is able to get on board again and tells Ben Gunn about the mutineers.
But Gunn, though impoverished and ragged, tells Jim that he is rich and that he will make Jim rich too. This strange statement makes Jim suspicious. By now Jim has had enough of double-dealing adults and it is only inevitable that he finds Gunn's disclosure a bit odd.
Jim tells him that Flint is dead. Ben Gunn seems to know Silver when Jim tells him that he is the Sea Cook. Jim at this point narrates his voyage. Ben Gunn proposes a deal where he asks for a thousand pounds and ride back home. In return he tells Jim that he was in Flint's Ship when he buried the Treasure. He was marooned on this island by a group of other Seaman who had come to unearth the treasure and had to return empty handed. Ben tells Jim about his boat that'll help them to get back to the schooner. Just then the fighting begins.
In the chapter Stevenson thickens the plot by introducing a new character. Ben Gunn is portrayed as a ragged impoverished man who longs for a bite of cheese. Though he tells Jim about Flint and his treasure, Stevenson doesn't reveal enough of this character. He tells Jim that he can help them but he doesn't say in what way.
Jim's character is also developed in this chapter and the plot takes a new twist with the introduction of Ben Gunn. The mystery and suspense that surrounds Ben Gunn and his experience in the island for two years heighten the tempo of the story.
Stevenson, as usual, leaves the reader in suspense as the chapter ends.