Discuss the central male characters journey to manhood in, Treasure Island, Charlie and the Chocolate factory and The lion the witch and the wardrobe.

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The life of a child is not an easy one, not to mention the rough lives of little boys. The pressure to grow up and become a man can be overwhelming, however the influence of male role models can help mold them in their search for personal identity. As seen in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, and C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, the central boy figure finds his journey to manhood supplemented by many father-like figures, whether good or bad they still work towards the end cause of their eventual sense of identity in the world around them.

Treasure Island is a book that tells the story of one boy, Jim Hawkins, and his search for buried treasure, yet in reality, it is his search for a clearer sense of self. He journeys far and wide in his pursuit of personal knowledge to an unknown island with unknown dangers, whereas his companions are in search of a glittery dream of immense proportions. For such a child, this trip is an adventure that gleams with the possibilities of excitement and the anticipation of boyhood fun in a hitherto unexplored region. This is the state of mind that Jim begins with, shifting ever so gradually to a struggle for survival that grips him with a fear he has never experienced before. What appears to be a hunt for riches turns into a desperate struggle to survive amidst a foe that is so near to them; each other. As the author of letters to his little boy, Robert Cotroneo remarks, “Treasure Island is a novel about a journey that is very different from what it first announces itself to be. It is about the end of innocence,” (20). Jim Hawkins is the perfect example of a boy in transition. Innocence is lost for this boy hero, but an understanding of what it means to be a man is found within himself after everything he goes through. He is saddened by the loss of his father, however, he is now left without a major male role model to teach him the ways of life as a man...a void that he fills with many other men that he encounters.

The first fatherly figure that Jim encounters is that of the pirate Billy Bones, a dreadful and sad looking pirate that warns Jim of a monstrous figure with one leg. Bones takes Jim under his wing and although he causes much trouble with his constant drunkenness,  his encompassing fears, and his incoherent rants, Bones provides a necessary influence in Jim’s life at the time of his father’s severe illness. It is his chance encounters with the old pirate that incite his following adventure and pit Jim against the overwhelming outside world. According to Robert Cotroneo, he believes that, “Billy Bones is nothing more than Stevenson’s means to force Jim on a journey that will take him from adolescence, with its inevitable pain and damage, into adulthood,” (20). As Jim is thrust into the world of pirates, treasure, and an encompassing sense of danger, his courage and self-sufficiency are tested at every turn. These can be seen as representing the obstacles that face an adolescent as they pass from childhood into the world of the adult and Jim faces them head on. He is in search of his identity and to achieve his new sense of self, he must endure many hardships that test his very nature.

Jim does not have to look far, for he finds a positive role model in the character of Squire Trelawney. The Squire is very noble, dignified, and polite with endearing qualities of kindness and fairness about him. He shows Jim a proper way to behave as he is the first to admit his error of ways and show his humbleness. In his realization of his personal errors of being oblivious to the connivance of his hired crew, he admits to Smollett, “Now, captain...you were right and I was wrong. I own myself an ass, and I await your orders,” (Stevenson 52). He finds himself strangely drawn to the boy in a protective role as he attempts to keep the boy safe, especially as danger looms around every corner. He trusts the boy and brings Jim closer to him, acting in a fatherly role for him, as the Squire instills in Jim, “Hawkins, I put prodigious faith in you,” (Stevenson 53). He creates a bond with Jim that time and again saves his and his companions’ lives through the bravery of Jim. It is curious if his intentions are based merely on concern for the boy or if it stems from the boy’s value for knowledge and monetary gain...even so, the Squire remains an influence on the boy in a way that guides him towards positive directions of the mature being that Jim eventually achieves.  

Jim is a character that is lost...in essence, he needs direction in his life. He is unsure even as to the role that he is to play in life, and how he wants to be seen by everyone else around him. He finds himself torn between wanting to remain the cabin “boy” of the ship crew and striving to prove to himself and everyone that he is an independent, self-sufficient adult. After feeling useless in camp with the squire and his crew, he considers abandoning them for an adventuresome romp in the jungle as he reminds himself,

I was certain I should not be allowed to leave the enclosure, my only plan was to take French leave, and slip out when nobody was watching; and that was so bad a way of doing it as made the thing itself wrong. But I was only a boy, and I had made my mind up, (Stevenson 94).

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This is a big step for Jim as a mature individual as he makes a bold decision on his own and follows through, taking real risks for one of the first times in his life. However, Jim still requires the influence of significant men to direct him in a way that furthers his maturity as a man. It is the influence of Ben Gunn that gives him the sense of empowerment that he can control his own destiny and not just have to follow what everyone else tells him. This feeling of independence is sparked within Jim as Ben advises ...

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