Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Robinson Crusoe was Defoe’s first-published full narrative and his most popular, appealing to both middle-class and aristocratic readers with its combination of a believable and very human first-person narrator, realistic detail, allusions and references to actual places and people, imagery drawn from everyday life and the natural world, and an appealing, if somewhat unstructured, narrative line.
The title page of the book provides a considerable amount of information for the reader. The LIFE and Strange Surprizing ADVENTURES of ROBINSON CRUSOE, of YORK. Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’ by PIRATES. Written by Himself. That, in brief, is a plot summary. It also is evidence of the ordinariness of the narrator, a seaman from York (and therefore middle class) who is forced by circumstances to fend for himself in unfriendly surroundings, a practical man who manages to survive for twenty-eight years before his rescue. Finally, within this long title is the evidence of Defoe’s insistence on realism—the use of real place names, the statement that the book is an autobiographical narrative.
That Robinson Crusoe is a Defoe character is evident from the moment he finds himself...
(The entire section is 683 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Robinson Crusoe is the son of a middle-class English family. Although his father desires that he go into business and live a quiet life, the young man has such longing for the sea that he finds it impossible to remain at home. He takes his first voyage without his parents’ knowledge. The ship is caught in a great storm, and Crusoe is so violently ill and so greatly afraid that he vows never to leave land again should he be so fortunate as to escape death.
When he lands safely, however, he finds his old longing still unsatisfied, and he engages as a trader, shipping first for the coast of Africa. The ship on which he sails is captured by a Turkish pirate vessel, and he is carried as a prisoner into Sallee, a Moorish port. There he becomes a slave. His life is unbearable, and at the first opportunity he escapes in a small boat. He is then rescued by a Portuguese freighter and carried safely to Brazil, where he buys a small plantation and begins the life of a planter.
When another English planter suggests that they make a voyage to Africa for a cargo of slaves, Crusoe once more gives in to his longing for the sea. This voyage is destined to bring him his greatest adventure of all, for the ship breaks apart on a reef near an island off the coast of South America. Of all the crew and passengers, only Crusoe survives, the waves washing him ashore. He takes stock of his situation and finds that the island seems to be completely uninhabited, with no...
(The entire section is 1459 words.)
Robinson Crusoe is a story of adventure and ingenuity, and also a travel narrative in which the hero journeys to Africa, Brazil, China, and Siberia, and then is shipwrecked on a deserted island. But to view the novel as simply a fascinating travelogue is to ignore much of what makes it valuable and interesting to modern readers.
Throughout the narrative, Defoe details an individual's struggle to survive in basically hostile surroundings. As part of his day-to-day existence, Robinson Crusoe faces starvation, illness, pain, possible insanity, even danger from cannibals, but he salvages what he can from the shipwreck and provides himself with shelter and rudimentary furniture and tools. Through ingenuity, hard work, and common sense, he improvises many of the comforts to which he was accustomed in England. Crusoe never broods about his isolation; rather he occupies his time productively and triumphs over his unpromising environment, thus becoming an example of the triumph of the human spirit.
Extremely popular with the reading public of Defoe's day, Robinson Crusoe is for the modern reader an excellent introduction to the way of life of the average seventeenth-century Englishman. A member of the large and prosperous middle class, Robinson Crusoe is a practical and materialistic man who believes in success and in trade, who aspires to better himself socially and financially, and who tries to live a carefully controlled and documented...
(The entire section is 342 words.)
Part 1 - Born in York
Born in York
A retired German merchant named Kreutznaer settles in the York country where, due to the "usual corruption of words in England." the German name becomes Crusoe. In York, Mr. Crusoe marries a woman whose surname is Robinson.
Robinson Crusoe, born in 1632, is their third child. Early on, Crusoe's father determines that his son will become a lawyer. Unfortunately. Crusoe "would be satisfied with nothing but going to sea." His mother and father do not allow it.
(The entire section is 79 words.)
Part 2 - To London and Trade
To London and Trade
A year later Crusoe sneaks away and accepts passage to London. He leaves on September 1, 1651. During a terrible storm, he promises to return home to his parents. Yet after the ship sinks, he forgets his promise. Instead, he goes to London and befriends the captain of a vessel bound for Guinea. He joins the voyage.
After a successful voyage, Crusoe resolves to make another journey with his friend. Yet after his friend suddenly dies, he gives most of his money to the captain's widow, invests some money, buys trade goods with the remainder, and takes the same ship for another voyage. On the way to Guinea, Moorish pirates seize the ship and he is forced to become a slave.
Two years later, Crusoe escapes in a fishing boat with the slave boy Xury. They sail down the "Barbarian Coast" of West Africa. Finally, just off the Cape Verde Islands, a Portuguese ship bound for Brazil rescues them. With Xury's consent, he sells him along with the boat's inventory to the ship's master.
Deciding to make his fortune in the area, Crusoe purchases a slave and a Brazilian sugar plantation. He enjoys moderate success with the new venture. A bit restless, he becomes interested in leading a slave expedition to Africa. So, at the "evil hour, the 1st of September, 1659," he embarks for Guinea; tragically, a hurricane wrecks the vessel on a sand bar and only Crusoe survives.
(The entire section is 241 words.)
Part 3 - "The Island of Despair"
"The Island of Despair"
Crusoe is shocked to find himself on the deserted island. His shock gives way to jubilation and thanksgiving for his survival. However, when he realizes the serious nature of his dilemma, he runs around in shock, paranoia, and fear. He finally falls asleep in a tree gripping a stick.
Crusoe spends several days cannibalizing the shipwreck for materials and provisions. With these salvaged goods, he begins to establish a fort—which he calls his "castle"—where he rules over a dog, some cats, and a parrot. He keeps a record of time, but after his ink runs out, he cannot maintain his journal.
Reviewing his life, he realizes that he has been selfish and cruel. He repents and resolves to lead a virtuous life. His days are filled with exploring the island, improving his castle, domesticating goats, experimenting with pottery, and developing other skills necessary for self-sufficiency.
Having secured shelter and food, Crusoe makes a boat. He constructs a small one, but he is nearly swept out to sea by dangerous currents. He uses the boat only for transportation to other parts of the island.
After twelve years, Crusoe nearly dies of fright over "the print of a man's naked foot on the shore." In a flurry of self-preservation, he expands his fortifications. He also discovers human bones and signs of cannibalism. Eleven years later, he witnesses a cannibal feast. A Spanish ship...
(The entire section is 252 words.)
Part 4 - The End of Solitude
The End of Solitude
One night, in his twenty-fourth year on the island, he dreams of saving one of the cannibals and civilizing him. Eighteen months later, on a Friday, his dream comes true. The savage falls at Crusoe's feet out of gratitude. Crusoe calls him Friday, and teaches him important English words like "Master," "Yes," and "No."
Gradually, Friday becomes civilized, converts to Christianity and adopts English habits. Friday tells Crusoe about the Spanish castaways living with his tribe on the mainland. Crusoe begins work on a bigger boat to bring the Spaniards to his island
In the twenty-seventh year, cannibals hostile to Friday's tribe (along with a few of their captives) visit the island. One of the captives is a European, so Crusoe and Friday attack the cannibals to free the captive: Crusoe shoots several of them and the rest of the cannibals flee. One of the captives turns out to be Friday's father. With people to help and good advice, Crusoe expands his agricultural production.
On the condition that they accept Crusoe's leadership, the Spaniard and Friday's father leave to fetch the rest of the Spaniards. Meanwhile, a group of English mutineers lands on the island to dispose of their captain and his loyal officers. Crusoe and Friday rescue them, capture the mutineers, and take back the ship.
The mutineers choose to stay on the island as Crusoe's subjects rather than return for...
(The entire section is 252 words.)
Part 5 - Back to Civilization
Back to Civilization
After an absence of twenty-eight years, Crusoe returns London in June, 1687. After the English captain gives him a reward, Crusoe learns that his parents are dead.
Crusoe discovers that he is rich because of some previous investments. After rewarding those who served him faithfully and selling his plantation, he returns to London.
Back in London, he marries and fathers three children. After his wife dies, he embarks on a final journey. On the way back, he visits his colony, which is thriving.
(The entire section is 85 words.)
Chapters 1-2 Summary
Robinson Crusoe was born in 1632 in the town of York, England. His father was from Germany; the family name was originally Kreutznaer. Robinson Crusoe had two elder brothers: one became a soldier and was killed in battle in Dunkirk fighting against the Spanish; the other one vanished without a trace.
Crusoe’s father initially presses him to train to become a lawyer, but Crusoe is determined to become a sailor. Both his parents are against this idea because they fear this would only lead to a life of misery. His father counsels him to remain at home and live the life of the middle class, which is the only guarantee of happiness: being too rich or too poor leads to sorrow. He points out the loss of his oldest child and sheds tears that move Crusoe.
Crusoe puts the matter aside for a few weeks and then approaches his mother. He asks her to speak to his father and encourage him to relent, but his mother refuses to go against her husband, even if she could change his mind. However, she reports this conversation to the elder Crusoe, who is adamant in refusing his consent. He believes (prophetically) that the life of a sailor will make his son “the most miserable wretch that was ever born.”
A year later, at the age of nineteen, Crusoe’s friends convince him to travel to London by sea. He joins up as a crew member so his passage will be free. When the wind and the sea pick up, Crusoe becomes seasick, and he regrets ignoring his father’s advice. He fears for his life and vows never to set foot on a ship again if he is ever blessed to return to land. The following day, the sea is calmer. Crusoe’s shipmate teases him for being so sick and fearful, stating that was nothing but a small squall. To celebrate, Crusoe joins with the other sailors in getting drunk—he quickly forgets his resolve to return to the shore.
The storm has slowed their travel. After several days, a much stronger storm overtakes them, frightening the entire crew, even those seasoned to such weather. Crusoe hides in his cabin as the sailors pray for deliverance. When the ship nears shore, they fire a cannon as a signal to those on land that rescue is required; a steady leak has sprung. A nearby ship sends out a boat to retrieve the crew from Crusoe’s ship. The crew escapes from the ship before it sinks and eventually makes landfall. The magistrates of the town give them lodging and money to return home.
(The entire section is 440 words.)
Chapters 3-4 Summary
Crusoe considers going back to his home in Hull. He knows his father would easily forgive him for his foolishness. His comrade’s father, who was master of the ship on which Crusoe had sailed, tells him that he should never go to sea again but take warning from his bad experiences. The captain hints that it might have been because of Crusoe that the ship was lost in the storm, like the ship on which the cursed Jonah sailed to escape God.
Crusoe travels to London by land and decides that it would be too embarrassing to return home. He reflects on how easy it is to get into foolishness but how humiliating it is to repent of it. He meets a ship’s master who is traveling to the coast of Africa and is invited to go along. The master seems (and is) honorable, so Crusoe agrees. At the master’s suggestion, he borrows forty pounds and buys toys and trinkets to trade along the way. The voyage is a success, and Crusoe returns with three hundred pounds worth of gold dust. The ship’s master dies while in England, so Crusoe next joins the man who is now in charge of the ship. This trip, however, leads to disaster. Near the coast of Africa, the ship is attacked and the crew killed or sold into slavery, Crusoe among them. Although he does not find slavery as bad as it could have been, Crusoe hopes his master will take him to sea so he can escape. His master, however, keeps him at home to tend his garden, and two years pass.
Crusoe’s owner remodels a boat with a cabin so it can be taken on longer fishing trips. Crusoe, a Moorish slave, and a boy are sent out to catch some fish. When they have gone some distance from the shore, Crusoe pushes the Moor overboard and commands him to swim ashore. Along with the boy (Xury), Crusoe takes the ship and escapes his bondage. As they travel along the African coast, Crusoe and Xury see many wild animals. Crusoe makes some kills for meat, and the two of them go ashore to get water. They make friends with the native peoples there. Crusoe sees a Portuguese ship far from the coast. It is presumably a slave ship, but Crusoe thinks only that it will eventually head back to the European coast. He pilots his boat out to the ship that is moving away from the coast.
(The entire section is 420 words.)
Chapters 5-6 Summary
Crusoe is some distance from the Portuguese ship but fires a gun and flies a flag to attract its attention. The captain takes him aboard and gives him free passage; the captain says he would wish someone would do the same for him should he find himself stranded. The captain tells Crusoe he is going to Brazil and urges Crusoe to keep all his possessions so he can make a living there. Crusoe sells most of his possessions, including Xury, who willingly returns to a life of slavery to aid Crusoe.
In Brazil, Crusoe makes friends with a plantation owner and enjoys the life so much that he buys a small plantation of his own. The work is hard and he regrets selling Xury, but after a few years he buys a slave and hires a servant to help him. Crusoe arranges with the Portuguese captain to retrieve the funds he left with his first captain’s widow. Some other plantation owners talk of going to Guinea on the coast of Africa to trade for some slaves. Because Crusoe is experienced in trading with the people there, they invite him to go with him. Crusoe agrees to sail for them to Africa to acquire slaves. Crusoe reflects on how easily he has rejected his father’s warnings. He arranges for the disposal of his effects in a will; he names the Portuguese captain his heir and provides for the continued upkeep of his plantation in his absence. He departs on September 1, 1659, at the age of twenty-seven, eight years after he left home.
There are fourteen men on board besides the captain, the cabin boy, and Crusoe. The ship also holds a cargo of trinkets to exchange in trade for slaves. As the ship leaves the South American coast, a massive storm arises. After twelve days, the ship’s captain proposes they return to Brazil, but Crusoe objects. They head toward the English colonial possessions in the Caribbean Sea. The ship strikes a reef and gets stuck in the sand. The ship is overpowered by the waves, so the crew decides to take the small boat and try to make for land. The storm, however, overturns the boat and throws the men into the water. Crusoe struggles against the waves, trying desperately to reach the nearby shore. The waves throw him against a boulder and almost knock him insensible. He eventually makes it to shore and climbs up short cliffs to a grassy area beyond the reach of the waves.
(The entire section is 419 words.)
Chapters 7-8 Summary
Robinson Crusoe observes how far out to sea the ship is. He sees no sign of any other survivor, only small articles of clothing. He has nothing on him but the clothes on his back, a knife, a pipe, and some tobacco. He examines his new home and worries about the danger of wild beasts. He finds a freshwater source and then spends the night sleeping in a tree.
In the morning, Crusoe sees that the ship has moved and landed at the rock on which he had been dashed when he was trying to reach shore. He makes a trip out to the ship to retrieve what supplies he can. He sees that, if the crew had stayed on the ship, they would have been carried closer to shore and all of them would have survived. The ship has been positioned so the cabin is above water; thus, most of the supplies are unspoiled. He finds a quantity of food, clothing, and tools. Crusoe makes a raft and he carries as much as he can back to shore. He erects a tent for shelter and sorts through his new-found wealth. Over the next two weeks, Crusoe returns to the ship several times, unloading all the valuable cargo that will aid him in his survival.
Crusoe decides he needs a secure place to build a more permanent dwelling, and he finds a spot that has a cliff surrounded by a small plain. He enlarges an already sizeable depression in the cliff to make a cave, where he stores some of his goods. He builds a stockade around the plain. It can only be entered by climbing a ladder, so he will be safe from wild beasts—which he realizes later was a false fear. Inside his stockade he sets up a double-roofed tent to protect his supplies from the heavy rains.
To keep track of the passage of time, he cuts marks on a post. He mentions that he rescued from the ship two cats and a dog, which served him for companions for several years. He frequently struggles with bouts of depression. He feels overwhelmed by that fact that this island is completely off the track of merchant vessels and that chances of rescue are slim. He begins a list of positives and negatives; he always remembers that he alone survived while his companions drowned. Eventually, seeing that the wild beasts he feared are not present, he enlarges his cave so it has an entrance to the outside of his barricade.
(The entire section is 422 words.)
Chapters 9-10 Summary
Robinson Crusoe needs a place to eat and work, so he makes a table and chair. He begins to keep a journal, at least as long as the ink will last, to record his time on the island. He writes that he arrived on the island on September 30, 1659. He narrates his first days on the island in procuring supplies from the ship and building a shelter.
Crusoe describes his efforts to provide himself with food. He finds wild goats on the island, but they are shy and difficult to catch. He shoots one nanny goat with a kid. He tries to tame the kid but is forced to eat it when it will not feed. His dog is terrified of the goats, which show no fear of him as a predator. He shoots a wild cat; he keeps its fur but discards the meat as inedible. He sees two seals but does not know what they are and lets them get away.
For light he uses tallow made from the fat of the goats he kills. He is forced to reinforce his cave when there is a partial collapse. He also builds a thatched roof over the outer area from the fence to the cliff in order to further protect his supplies. He places dirt around the outside of the fence, deciding that it would be well if there is no sign of human habitation in case hostile people come on the island (which, he hints, happens at a later date). He finds a bag of seeds that has been destroyed by rats and throws it out on the ground so he can use the bag. He is surprised when stalks of barley begin to grow as well as some rice. At first he believes it is a direct act of God, but he soon realizes there must have been some good seeds in what he threw out. He believes Providence blessed him with some surviving seeds, and he works over several years to grow enough to have both seed to plant and grain for food.
An earthquake strikes the island, which cause Crusoe to fear living in his cave. He decides he must build a separate dwelling that is safe from future quakes. He finds that the remains of the ship were shifted in the earthquake, so now he can walk to the wreckage at low tide. He intends to remove as many planks from the ship as possible before it is completely destroyed by the waves. He finds some gunpowder and food, but they have been ruined by water and sand. He manages to retrieve some sheet lead (for bullets) that has been undamaged. He also captures a sea turtle, which provides a welcome change from goat and fowl for meat.
(The entire section is 463 words.)
Chapters 11-12 Summary
As summer begins, Robinson Crusoe is struck with the ague. For several days he suffers from fever and aches and is unable to feed himself. He cries out to God, although he admits he has never seriously prayed before. He dreams that a man of fire descends from the clouds, points a spear at him, and says, “Seeing all these things have not brought thee to repentance, now thou shalt die.” Crusoe had never followed any religious teaching beyond what he had picked up at home. He had prayed some superficial prayers (asking for rescue or giving thanks) but now he considers the events he has undergone as a divine prodding.
As he recovers, he looks at his surroundings and comes to the conclusion that God created all he sees. He takes up one of the Bibles he rescued from the ship and begins to read. He is struck by this verse: “Call on Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver, and thou shalt glorify Me.” He interprets this as an indication that God will deliver him from the island. As he continues to read, however, he sees this more as a deliverance from his past life. His isolation on the island is nothing compared to his isolation from God.
Crusoe learns that being outside in the rainy season affects his health, so he adjusts his hunting periods accordingly. He has been on the island for ten months and decides to explore further. He finds grape vines but is wary of eating them fresh because he remembers how many English slaves died when they ate grapes from the coast of Africa. He plans on drying them into raisins and tries several ways before he hangs them on a tree. He discovers a valley where cocoa, orange, lemon, and citron trees grow. He decides he will build a second home here, which he calls his “summer residence”; he spends the rainy seasons in his cave. He builds a bower surrounded by a fence. When he returns several weeks later, Crusoe finds that the branches he placed in the ground for the fence have bloomed to form a hedge.
Crusoe misses one of his cats and fears that she is dead. However, she returns later with three kittens. This surprises Crusoe because both the cats are female. He speculates that there is a wild cat species on the island close enough to breed. In time, the cats become pests; he drives them away.
He plants only some of his seeds because he is unsure of the growing season. When the seeds do not come up, he plants others in a moister section. After the dry season,...
(The entire section is 476 words.)
Chapters 13-14 Summary
Robinson Crusoe desires to explore the rest of the island, so he packs some supplies and sets out with his dog. They travel past the valley where his bower lays. He is not exactly sure of where the island is located, but he knows it is near the Spanish possessions in the Americas. He knows some areas were inhabited by cannibals and feels he is thankful that his island is deserted, despite his loneliness. On the way, Crusoe finds a parrot, which he eventually teaches to say the name Crusoe. He finds some hares and foxes, which provide fur but very little good eating. He finds a young kid that he decides to domesticate in preparation for the day when his shot and powder are gone.
When Crusoe reaches the other side of the island, he realizes that he has set up his dwelling on the worst side. However, he is well established there, and he will not relocate. On the way back, he finds a deep valley covered with trees, in which he wanders in for three days because the haze covers the sun. He finds his way to the ocean and thus makes his way to his bower, where he pens the kid. After resting at his home in the cave for a week, Crusoe goes back to get the kid. He finds it almost starving and feeds it, then he leads it back. It becomes more of a pet than stock.
On the 30th of September, Crusoe celebrates two years on the island. He struggles with depression and loneliness, but he begins to thank God for leading him to a place where he is separated from the temptations civilization brings. However, he realizes he is still praying to be delivered. He changes his prayers and begins thanking God for opening his eyes and making him a new man.
Now that he has a variety of food available, Crusoe feels the need for clay pots with which to cook. He finds clay and begins to fashion different types of containers, but none survives heat without cracking or collapsing. He devises a kiln in which to cook the clay pots, and he learns to adjust the temperature so they will be adequately fired. He feels pleased with his success in making pottery and with the production of his fields, which now growing enough grain to more than satisfy his needs both for food and for seed.
He next builds a canoe so he can travel more easily around the island. When he is finished, however, he realizes that the canoe is too far from the water and too heavy to move. He reflects on the necessity of planning before building.
(The entire section is 451 words.)
Chapters 15-16 Summary
Robinson Crusoe has now been shipwrecked on the island four years. Each year he keeps the anniversary as a time of penance and thanksgiving to God. He reflects that he has received great benefit from being separated from the rest of the world. He is removed from the pull of fleshly desires, and he is the ruler of his own little world. He has food and provisions enough; if he had more, it would just go to waste. He even has some money (about thirty-six pounds) that serves no purpose. He has learned to be content with what he has. He sees his isolation, compared to his previous sinful existence, as a sign of God’s mercy.
Over time, many of the things he brought on the island from the ship have disappeared. He has long run out of ink, even though he watered down what he had. His clothes are falling to pieces. He still has several shirts he found on the ship, and he is content with these. The temperature is so hot he does not need more. He has found that the sun’s rays are uncomfortable if he goes naked or without a hat. He contrives an umbrella to protect him as he walks about. He reflects on the fact that so many momentous events in his life have occurred on the same date: he was captured and enslaved exactly a year after he left his home, and he was shipwrecked on his birthday (September 30). Nonetheless, he is resigned to the will of God and throws himself on Divine Providence.
As he completes six years on the island, Crusoe manages to finish a canoe and get it into the water. It is smaller than he wanted it to be so he could use it to reach the mainland, but it will suffice for now. He stocks it with provisions and sets off to explore the waters around the island. However, a current catches him and takes his canoe out to sea. He manages to rig his sails in order to escape the current and reach land once more, just a short distance from where he launched. Crusoe feels overcome by the fear and strain of the ordeal. He makes it as far as his bower and then falls asleep, but he is awakened by a voice crying, “Poor Robin Crusoe. Where have you been?” He is startled but sees that it is only Poll the Parrot, repeating the words Crusoe himself said so often.
(The entire section is 418 words.)
Chapters 17-18 Summary
Robinson Crusoe decides he has had enough of venturing out to sea in his canoe, even though it took so much time and effort to build and launch it. He concentrates on perfecting his home life instead. He makes a potter’s wheel and thus is able to make passable stoneware for cooking and storing. He has been on the island for eleven years now, and his powder is growing more depleted. His earlier attempts at domesticating goats had not worked well; he has been unable to catch a male goat and his one captured kid is now growing old and dying. Now he digs a pit and manages to catch several goats. Then he builds a corral at his country estate, where the goats breed and multiply until eventually he has forty-two head.
Crusoe’s only companions are his now-ancient dog, Poll the Parrot, and two cats (not the original two, which had died some time before). He makes himself clothing from the goat skins: a conical hat with a flap on the back, a short jacket, pants, and some foot coverings. He has razors from the ship, so he keeps his beard short, after having let it grow to almost a foot long. Crusoe still wants to explore around the island by canoe but does not want to risk getting caught in a current as happened previously. To solve this problem, Crusoe decides to build another canoe on the far shore. In this way, he will not have to cross the most dangerous area at sea. He improves his country estate as well; it now serves as his ranch.
One day, Crusoe comes across a footprint on the shore. He panics, fearing that cannibals have come to his island from the mainland. He rushes back to his cave and stays there for three days. He even imagines that it might be the footprint of the Devil. He loses his confidence in God momentarily, but eventually he begins to trust once again in God’s deliverance. He realizes that it is probably the print of his own foot, which he could have made when coming back from his boat. Relieved, he goes to care for his goats, which suffered during the tree days he was hiding in his cave. He returns to the footprint and realizes that this place is not where he has ever landed his canoe. Furthermore, the print is a mark of a foot smaller than his own. He once again panics and decides he must cover up his existence on the island. He makes another wall around his cave and plants a forest of trees to surround it. He moves his goats into a secluded valley in the interior (where he had been lost in a fog for...
(The entire section is 481 words.)
Chapters 19-20 Summary
Crusoe explores the southwestern portion of the island, a section he has seldom visited. As he stands on a hill, he looks out to sea and thinks he sees a boat. He does not have his telescope with him and so cannot be sure. He vows to always bring his telescope with him from now on. On the beach he sees a large fire and human bones scattered about. Cannibals have landed here, on his island, for a hideous feast. Crusoe feels more outraged at human degeneracy than fearful for himself, and he considers ways he can wipe out the cannibals on their next visit. He ponders the possibility of placing gunpowder below the fire pit. He decides against this both because he is short on gunpowder and because he cannot be sure the explosion would do any more than startle them.
For two years, Crusoe thinks of this new incursion to his island. After much reflection, Crusoe wonders if he is right to sit in judgment of them. They obviously do not resort to cannibalism as a crime any more than Europeans killing each other in war is considered a crime. He comes to the conclusion that he must leave the judgment of the cannibals to God rather than take it upon himself to inflict vengeance for an act that belongs to a culture not his own. Crusoe maintains this frame of mind for about a year; he stays away from that side of the island so he will not encounter the cannibals again and change his mind. He contemplates what would have happened if the cannibals had captured him, and once again he feels grateful to God for his deliverance from such a fate.
While Crusoe is cutting down trees to make charcoal, he comes across a large hollow behind some bushes. He goes in to find a cave that is small but large enough for him to stand up in it. He sees a pair of eyes shining in the dark and leaves immediately, thinking it might be the Devil. He recovers from his fear and re-enters the cave to find a dying male goat. He tries to get it out but cannot. He returns later with candles and finds that the goat has died. He looks around the cave and sees that the walls are covered with some mineral or gems that give off multiple reflections. He decides this will be a perfect place to keep his arsenal.
He has been on the island for almost twenty-three years. His dog has died, but Poll the Parrot still lives. Crusoe has acquired a couple of other parrots, but he does not teach them to speak as he did Poll. His domestic cats he keeps down to two by drowning...
(The entire section is 510 words.)
Chapters 21-22 Summary
Because of the recurrence of the cannibals, Robinson Crusoe sees a new benefit in having domesticated the goats: he does not need to fire a gun, which would alert the “savages” to his presence. It is now twenty-four years that he has been on the island.
One day he is surprised to hear the firing of a gun. He climbs to a higher point and sees a flash of fire far out to sea. It sounds to him like a message of distress, and he builds a fire as a signal. The ship evidently sees it, for it fires off several more shots. Crusoe discovers that the ship has struck a rock near the place where the current caused him so much trouble many years before. He prays that some of the men might survive and provide him with some companionship. However, he later discovers only the body of a boy with nothing but pieces of eight and a pipe. He voyages out to the ship but finds no survivors. There is very little of value in his eyes, except some cooking pots, clothing, some bottles of different spirits, and a little gunpowder. There is also a dog that is near starvation. Crusoe loads all this in his boat and sails back to land. He stores his newfound provisions in his cave arsenal. Crusoe, his life a little easier, resumes his previous occupations.
Crusoe thinks how foolish he had been to set sail for Africa to trade for slaves. If he had not, he would be a wealthy man on his Brazilian plantation, able to buy as many slaves as he wanted. He thinks of how providential it has been that he has, so far, escaped from the savages that periodically come to the island. He thinks that the main land must be relatively near for the cannibals to come so regularly to the island. He decides the only way he can escape is to attack the next band of cannibals that comes to the island, enslave one or two of them, and use them as guides to take him back to their home.
The moment comes at last when a group of cannibals returns to his island, but the party consists of five canoes filled with men. There are too many for him to effectively attack. Two men are held captive. The cannibals strike one on the head (presumably to be the evening meal). The other man swiftly escapes and runs straight toward the place where Robinson Crusoe is hiding. Three of the cannibals chase him. One is unable to cross the creek. Crusoe strikes the second and shoots the third. The man Crusoe refers to as “my savage” sees that the one Crusoe struck is still alive. He...
(The entire section is 487 words.)
Chapters 23-24 Summary
The savage Robinson Crusoe rescued is lighter skinned than the others and without the features associated with Native Americans or Native Africans. Crusoe teaches him that his name is to be “Friday” because he was rescued on a Friday; he is to call Crusoe “Master.” Friday suggests they go back to the two cannibals they killed and eat them. Crusoe makes him understand that this is something he will not do. They return to the scene where Friday escaped to find it littered with bones and flesh. They burn these on the fire.
Crusoe makes Friday some clothing, which makes the native feel uncomfortable. Friday becomes a loving and loyal servant to Crusoe, acknowledging that he owes his life to the White man. Crusoe teaches him many things, but his primary goal is to make him leave the life of a cannibal. He fixes him goat meat, and Friday proclaims it so good that he will no longer eat the flesh of men. Friday learns to help Crusoe in the work of procuring food. He also gradually learns to speak English.
Crusoe learns that Friday had been among the cannibals who had visited the island previously. He also discovers that land is not too far off—so close that no canoes are ever lost as they travel between the two spots. There are also Spaniards nearby; their savagery is already known throughout both Europe and the Americas. Crusoe gains hope from this that he might at last be able to escape the island.
Over the next three years, Crusoe works to establish a religious understanding in Friday. The native believes a god called Benamuckee created everything. When anyone dies, he goes to where Benamuckee is. As Crusoe explains the doctrine of salvation through Christ, Friday sees that the Christian God must be greater than Benamuckee. He is fascinated that anyone, not just the old men, can pray to this God anywhere, rather than only at the top of a mountain. While Friday quickly accepts the notion of God as a god of goodness and justice, he has trouble understanding the Devil. He asks Crusoe why, if God is so strong, He does not kill the Devil so he will do no more wickedness. Crusoe is dumbfounded as to how to answer this, but Friday will not let him dodge the issue. In time, Crusoe states, Friday becomes as good a Christian as he is—perhaps better.
(The entire section is 406 words.)
Chapters 25-26 Summary
Robinson Crusoe tells Friday the story of his coming to the island and his survival on it. He explains the use of gunpowder, which seems miraculous to Friday. Crusoe tells him of Europe and how the people function there. When Crusoe shows him the remains of his old boat, Friday tells him that some White men came to his homeland in such a boat. Crusoe surmises that these men might be the survivors of the ship that was wrecked on the rock some years previously. Friday explains that the White men and the natives made a treaty.
One day, standing on a high point, Friday points over the ocean toward the mainland and describes it as his country. This desire to see his home causes jealousy to arise in Crusoe’s mind; he believes that, given the chance, Friday would return to his home and return with his fellow countrymen to kill and eat Crusoe. Crusoe is wrong in this, he admits, and he feels badly for mistrusting his friend. He asks Friday if he would like to return home. Friday replies that he would but only if Crusoe goes with him. He assures Crusoe that his kinsmen would not eat Crusoe but would learn to love him as he has done. Crusoe decides to build a new canoe and sail with Friday to the mainland. Friday is upset because he thinks Crusoe is sending him away. Crusoe assures him this is not the case. It is now twenty-seven years since Crusoe came on the island. He expresses his gratitude to God for His provision both of the means of survival and of a friend.
As Crusoe endeavors to supply the boat for the journey to the mainland, Friday comes running, crying that there are canoes coming. They rush to see the arrival of large group of cannibals. Crusoe spies a European among the prisoners doomed to be eaten. He and Crusoe fire down on the natives, killing several. They manage to free the European and another native victim. At the first opportunity to rest, Crusoe learns that the European is from Spain. He is able to join in the fight as cannibals advance, and in the end Crusoe, Friday, and the Spaniard kill twenty-one. Friday is overjoyed when he discovers that the freed native is his own father. Because of the tight bindings, neither the Spaniard nor Friday’s father is able to walk far, so they must be carried to Crusoe’s cave. Crusoe and Friday are unable to lift them over the wall, so Crusoe constructs a tent for them and prepares beds for them in their recovery.
(The entire section is 441 words.)
Chapters 27-28 Summary
Robinson Crusoe feels like a proper king on his island now that he has three subjects. He notes that each subject represents a different religion: Friday is a Protestant, Friday’s father is a Pagan, and the Spaniard is a Catholic. Crusoe remarks that he allows for liberty of conscience in his kingdom. He sends Friday off to bury the dead cannibals and to cover their location.
In speaking with the Spaniard, Crusoe learns that there are fourteen survivors living on the mainland, but they are close to being destitute despite the aid given by Friday’s tribe. They discuss bringing the Europeans over to the island. The Spaniard feels it would be better to wait a season and grow some more crops before doing so, lest the Europeans cause trouble because there is not enough food. Crusoe agrees, and the four men increase both the growing fields and the herd of goats. After six months, the Spaniard and Friday’s father go off to the mainland to bring the new “colonists” to Crusoe’s island. Before their return, Friday comes running to warn Crusoe of an approaching ship. Crusoe sees that it is an English ship, but the English have no traffic in this Spanish-controlled area. He feels suspicious despite his excitement at the thought of seeing his countrymen once more.
The boat draws near the shore, and Crusoe watches closely as eleven men disembark. He sees that three are unarmed and appear to be bound. The others wander off and the three prisoners are left alone. Crusoe greets them when they catch sight of him. He tells them he is their friend, perhaps sent from Heaven for their rescue. An older man, obviously the leader, explains that he is the captain of the ship. Several members of his crew have mutinied; they have brought him, the first mate, and a passenger to the island to leave to their death. Crusoe promises to help the captain if he will take Crusoe and Friday back to England. The captain readily agrees. Crusoe takes the three men back to his cave. The captain is impressed with the ingenuity evident in the care and inventiveness of the furnishings. Crusoe follows the other men. He eventually captures some and encourages several to join their side against the mutineers. In another attack, some of the mutineers are killed, though Crusoe had tried to avoid taking any lives. The mutineers are overcome, and only the ringleader is under the threat of execution.
(The entire section is 417 words.)
Chapters 29-30 Summary
They repair the boat so they can retake the ship. The captain tells the captured mutineers that the governor of the island is English and they are his prisoners. The governor has the power to hang them all but has determined that they should go back to England to be tried. When the captain and some of his crew return to the ship, they manage to overtake the men there; they shoot the ringleader, Atkins, and hang his body from the yardarm. On his return to the shore, Crusoe suggests dividing up the prisoners, which he does. The captain talks with them and offers them the choice of leaving with him to be tried in England or remaining on the island. They decide to remain, and Robinson Crusoe shows them how to survive.
Crusoe spends his last night in his cave, gathering what things he will take with him back to England. He boards the ship carrying his umbrella, his cap, and his parrot as well as all the gold and silver he acquired from the shipwrecks. They leave the island on December 19, the same date on which he escaped from slavery twenty-eight years previously. The ship arrives back in England on June 11, 1687, thirty-five years after Robinson Crusoe left its shores as a nineteen-year-old boy intent on seeing the world on his own terms.
Crusoe returns to England to find his parents dead; only two sisters and some nieces and nephews are still alive. Because it was generally believed that he was dead, no provision had been made for him in any will. He looks up the widow who was taking care of his small fortune in England only to find her near destitute. He leaves her some money and goes to Lisbon to learn about the fate of his plantation in Brazil. Crusoe finds the captain who had rescued him from Africa and learns that his estate has been put in use but is still held in trust should he ever be proved alive. He learns that he has become a very wealthy man. He contemplates going back to Brazil. However, he had followed the Catholic religion during his time there, and he does not want to subject himself to that now that he has committed himself to the Protestant faith. He provides gifts and money to his remaining family and those who helped him along the way and decides to return to England.
(The entire section is 405 words.)
Chapters 31-32 Summary
Crusoe and Friday travel back to England from Lisbon by land. As they approach the northeast border of Spain, heavy snow in the Pyrenees blocks them. Friday is terrified by the snow as well as the effects of the cold weather. The pass through the mountains is so thick with snow that no one can get through. A French gentleman finds them a guide who will take them through the mountains. They are surprised when he leads them back toward Madrid to a warmer climate, but then he leads them through a meandering route through the mountains toward the north. The snow once again catches them and a wolf attacks the guide. Friday manages to shoot it but not until it has bitten the guide in the arm and the leg.
Further on, the group encounters a bear. Friday laughs and begs them to let him take care of it. Friday puts the bear through its paces, seemingly making it dance. After several minutes of making the others laugh, Friday shoots the bear through the ear, killing it instantly. He explains that this is how bears are killed in his country, though it is usually done with an arrow because they, of course, do not have guns.
The small party travels on through the mountain pass. It is still snowing, and the mountain is steep and dangerous. In a small wood, the travelers are attacked by a large pack of wolves. The men manage to kill several. In the midst of the attack, Crusoe and the others hear the sound of a gun and see a saddled horse running off down the path. They follow the sound of the gun and find the remains of a man, his head and upper body having been eaten. They return to the attack of the wolves and manage to turn the pack away with the last of the bullets. The guide is so ill from his wound that they are obliged to leave him at the nearest village and hire a new one.
On his return once again to England, Crusoe decides that he cannot go to live in Brazil for fear of the Spanish Inquisition’s torture of Protestants. He sells his plantation and settles down with his nephews. Crusoe marries and has three children.
After his wife dies, Crusoe decides to return to his island. He finds that the Spanish shipwreck survivors had at last returned with Crusoe’s Spaniard and Friday’s father. The mutineers had been too much trouble and had to be wiped out. Crusoe leaves them supplies and then goes to visit his old English friends in Brazil. He promises to send English women to the colonists on his island....
(The entire section is 468 words.)