Chapter 15, The Man of the Island
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Wild characters are such a joy to create. They function on a different tempo and rhythm from all other characters, although the challenge as a narrator is you still have to keep them decipherable for the listener. Ben Gunn has such long looping stories, he created a cadence for me to tap into as a narrator. This is largely do to the mighty writing of Stevenson, yet the interpretation is based on a more modern British comedic actor Michael Palin.
What is great about the character Gunn as a function for the story itself, is he sums up a lot of loose ends rather quickly. First, he proves Long John Silver’s history as a pirate. Second, he gives a detailed history of the treasure. Third and finally he offers the wild card a writer needs in any story to make up for the portions that wouldn’t be believable otherwise. For instance, the small boat he mentions in passing, later when a boat is needed, it wouldn’t do for Jim Hawkins to simply find one on the beach.
Gunn’s madness is a further diabolical plot device, as in if he were not mad he would have no cause to convey all this information in such a brief moment in time. Yet if a person were forced to live a lone on a island for three years it makes since they would not want to stop talking.
As a writer, Gunn is a magnificent device. As a narrator, he is both a challenge and a joy. He speaks faster then any other character in the story, yet he says more then almost all of the other characters combined in his introductory chapter. The trick was, how do you say this and make it fun?
I hope you enjoy my choices. Please feel free to leave comments about the work.