As previous post states clearly what the short story is all about, I’d like to just share what I feel reading it. No analysis whatsoever.
Reading ‘The Merry Men’ is like watching a dark comedy and I think the main actor is not Charles Danaway but his uncle, Gordon Darnaway. This old man keeps a lot of secrets that makes him that weird, guarded, serious, hardly smiles. At the beginning of the story, I thought Gordon Darnaway seems so hard on himself because of the harshness of life to make ends meet.
After I finish reading the story, I realize he has so much inside of him that contributes much to what he is. I guess this remains mystery to Charles Darnaway, too, until the sinking of an unknown boat opens up all the riddles.
From the first page of the story until the scene where Charles, Rorie and Gordon are in the hill watching the ill-fated boat sinking down, swallowed by the Merry Men, all I feel is seriousness. Probably this is also because of the difficult, detailed language that R0bert Louis Stevenson applies.
My favorite scene is when Charles comes across a grave when he is about to go deep underwater. What shocks me even more is he unintentionally touches the hands of a dead body under the water. The description of this fragment is so smooth that it startles me when reading it.
What I really mean as dark comedy is when uncle Gordon escapes from the home after he knows the negro man is in it. It’s comical to watch the negro man chases after Gordon until they become uncontrollable. At this, the scene seems funny but when they both plunge into the sea, I know the story is about a tragedy.
As much as I am sad about the fate of Gordon, I can totally understand the deep message behind it: that you take responsibility on things that you do. In this case, Gordon ‘deserves’ the punishment because he murders a marine man. That’s how he pay his sins.