Study Guide

The Swiss Family Robinson

by Johann David Wyss, Johann Rudolf Wyss

The Swiss Family Robinson Summary

Summary (Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Of all the passengers and crew on board the ship, only the Robinson family is saved when the vessel breaks apart on a reef and the crew and other passengers jump into lifeboats without waiting for the little family to join them. As the ship tosses about, the father prays that God will spare them. There is plenty of food on board, and after they eat, the boys go to sleep, leaving the father and the mother to guard them.

In the morning their first concern is to get to the island they can see beyond the reef. With much effort, they construct a vessel out of tubs. After they fill the tubs with food and ammunition and all other articles of value they can safely carry, they row toward the island. Two dogs from the ship swim beside them, and the boys are glad they will have pets when they reach their new home.

Their first task on reaching the island is to erect a tent of sailcloth they brought from the ship. They gather moss and dry it so that they will have some protection from the ground when they sleep. They are able to find a lobster and to shoot some game, thus to add fresh food to their supplies. Since they have no utensils for eating, they use shells for spoons, all dipping out of the iron kettle that they brought from the ship. They released some geese and pigeons while they were still on the ship and brought two hens and two cocks with them. The father knows that they must prepare for a long time on the island, and his thoughts are as much on provisions for the future as for their immediate wants.

The father and Fritz, the oldest son, spend the next day exploring the island. They find gourds from which they can make dishes and spoons, and many edible fruits and roots. Coconuts, growing in abundance, provide a treat for the mother and the younger boys. Fritz captures a small monkey, which he takes back for a pet. The younger boys are enchanted with the mischievous little animal.

The Robinsons spend the next few days securing themselves against hunger and danger from wild animals. The father and Fritz make several trips to the ship in their efforts to bring ashore everything that they can possibly use. The domesticated animals on the ship are towed back to the island. There is also a great store of firearms and ammunition, hammocks for sleeping, carpenter’s tools, lumber, cooking utensils, silverware, and dishes.

While the father and Fritz are salvaging these supplies, the mother and the younger boys are working on the shore, sowing seeds, examining the contents of the kegs that floated to shore, and in every way possible making the tent a more livable home. The mother and boys also explore the island to find a spot for a more permanent home. When the father and Fritz can join them, the whole family helps to construct a tree house that will give them protection from wild animals that they fear might dwell on the island.

Through the following weeks, each day brings a new adventure of some kind. There are encounters with wild birds and terrifying animals. Ernest, the second son, studied nature with great interest before their ill-fated voyage, and he identifies many of the animals and birds. They find...

(The entire section is 1295 words.)

The Swiss Family Robinson Overview

Although The Swiss Family Robinson may seem to be old-fashioned in its outlook, it is still widely read and available in several...

(The entire section is 229 words.)

The Swiss Family Robinson Chapter Summaries

Chapter 1 Summary

Since its first publication in 1812, Johann Wyss's novel, The Swiss Family Robinson, has been edited and/or translated into various lengths, ranging from eighteen to fifty-two chapters. The longer versions are "unabridged." The version this summary covers is a popular 1879 unabridged version of forty-four chapters, edited by William H. G. Kingston.

The story is narrated by the father of four sons who, with his wife, journeys on a ship. A violent storm pulls them off their charted course and tosses the ship so wildly that after a few days none of the crew knows where they are. The storm lasts a long time, leaving all aboard distressed and hopeless of being saved.

One afternoon, a crew member sees land, and soon the ship runs aground on rocks, which crack the bow. As night falls, the father, fearful for the lives of his family, goes on deck to determine the ship's damage. What he sees is difficult to believe: The crew is boarding lifeboats, leaving the family behind.

Before they sleep that night, the father creates vests to buoy his family should the ocean water crash through the bow. When they awake the next day, they are thankful that the storm has ceased. In the distance, the father sees land; now he must figure out how to get his family there.

Over the next few days, his sons help him devise a system of floatable old wine kegs, large barrels with enough room to hold one person each. When he places the kegs in the water, however, he discovers that they easily tip over. To rectify this, he attaches the kegs to one another and builds a bow that curves around them. He then connects an outrigger like those he has seen on small boats that native island people use.

The outrigger offers even greater balance. The kegs, however, continue to float too high on the water and do not appear safe. The father realizes the kegs need more ballast, or extra weight, to stabilize, and he and his family search through the wrecked ship for materials. They choose objects that not only will add weight but also will be useful for survival on the island. They spend one more night on the ship, planning to leave in the morning.

Chapter 2 Summary

Upon awakening, the father realizes they have enough kegs to transport more supplies, and the family searches the ship for more provisions. In the process, his wife, Elizabeth, discovers animals on board, including a cow, a pig, and some geese, chickens, and ducks. The father releases the fowl, as they can fly or swim to the island, and decides to give the other animals enough to eat for a couple of days. He will come back for them later.

The boys gather tools, such as hammers, nails, and fish hooks, while the father collects large pieces of canvas to build a tent. They also find food and drink to tide them over until they find other sources of meat and fruit on the island. One son finds two large dogs in the captain's quarters. At first the father is concerned about two more mouths to feed but concedes they might be worth the sacrifice to help guard the family and hunt.

Finally they enter their individual kegs. Elizabeth sits up front. Next comes the youngest, Franz, who is almost eight. In the third keg is Fritz, who is fifteen. In the middle are two kegs holding supplies. Then sits Jack, who is ten. Finally, at the rear are Ernest, who is twelve, and the father. Since there is no room and they refuse to stay on the shipwreck, the dogs jump into the ocean and swim. The distance is frightening long, but the dogs occasionally rest by clinging to the outrigger.

The family lands successfully on the island. They set up a tent and soften the floor with armloads of grass they cut and spread to serve as their beds. As they search their immediate surroundings, they are happy to discover a plentiful supply of ocean creatures such as lobsters and oysters, which they gather to make stews. The ducks and geese find a comfortable spot on a nearby river, and the dogs are not shy about hunting for themselves.

By nightfall, everyone's appetite is satisfied. In the morning the father will survey the island and search for any other survivors. A Christian, the father leads the family in a prayer of thanksgiving before they sleep.

Chapter 3 Summary

In the morning, the father and Fritz leave to scour the island for food, survivors, and possibly a better location to set up camp.

They traverse the river, then walk upstream until they come to a grove of trees. One tree grows what look like gourds on its trunk. The father tells Fritz the gourds will make excellent bowls and spoons, and they cut them into various utensils. They set them to dry in the sun, planning to pick them up on their way back.

The father, a traveler and great reader, shows Fritz how the native cultures he studied carve the gourds with a string. He also explains that ancient people used the gourds to cook. However, they did not place the gourds on a fire since they would burn. Rather,...

(The entire section is 394 words.)

Chapter 4 Summary

As the father and Fritz make their way back to camp, they encounter a large monkey family. Their dog is in their midst before they can reach him. Ravenous with hunger, the dog destroys a female monkey, the mother of a young baby. At first the baby monkey hides in tall grass. However, when Fritz runs to the dead mother, the baby jumps onto his shoulders and grabs his hair. Fritz attempts to shake the creature off, but the monkey holds fast. To save both the baby and his son, the father offers the monkey a piece of a biscuit. The monkey, no bigger than a kitten, finally releases Fritz and waddles to the father, who picks him up.

Fritz asks if he can raise the orphan and his father agrees, sensing the monkey might be...

(The entire section is 398 words.)

Chapter 5 Summary

The father and Fritz take this day to return to the shipwreck to salvage materials. They must also bring back the livestock. Before leaving the island, the father erects a pole and places a makeshift flag. If there is trouble, Elizabeth is to lower the flag and shoot the rifle he leaves her three times so they know to return. Otherwise, the two men will stay on board overnight, giving them ample time to load the barrel-raft they have constructed for transporting themselves and the goods. As they are about to leave, Fritz suggests that they rig a sail to catch the steady breeze and save them the trouble of rowing against ocean currents.

On board, the men busy themselves searching for valuable merchandise. They find a...

(The entire section is 387 words.)

Chapter 6 Summary

The morning after her husband returns from the shipwreck, Elizabeth informs him that she wants the family to move to a safer place. Their current camp is not only exposed but also very dry and hot. She tells him that the previous day, she and her sons crossed the river and explored more pleasant, treed land on the other side. The trees' shade offered comfort, and if they built a house up in one of the large trees, they would be safe from jackals.

She describes a perfect tree for the project, one whose trunk is nearly forty feet in diameter. The limbs are very long and extend straight out from the trunk, making them perfect platforms for a structure. Surrounding the grove of trees are wide fields of tall grasses with...

(The entire section is 387 words.)

Chapter 7 Summary

The father argues against moving from the beach to the tree. He finds the beach easier to protect from intruders. Where they landed, the beach is very rocky, thus making it difficult for ships to make their way in. If he blasts the rocks near the river, an approach by land would also be more challenging.

Elizabeth refuses to give in, saying the heat during the day is oppressive. While he transports supplies from the ship or surveys the island in the shade of the trees, she remains behind on the beach all day.

Finally they reach a compromise. The father will build the house in the tree but they will keep the beach compound as a secret retreat. The children are ecstatic and call the grove of trees on the other...

(The entire section is 344 words.)

Chapter 8 Summary

In preparation for their trip to the other side of the river, the father makes sure his sons realize the potential dangers. They have not been on the island long enough to be aware of all the animals living there. There may be more than jackals to attack them. As they start across the river with their supplies and livestock, he admonishes them to stay close and be constantly on the lookout.

After placing the youngest child on the one donkey they saved from the ship, Elizabeth is free to assist in rounding up the chickens, ducks, geese, and pigeons. Her sons had attempted this the wrong way, by chasing after the birds. Elizabeth reminds them they have more intelligent brains than the fowl and should use them. She...

(The entire section is 395 words.)

Chapter 9 Summary

After dinner that first night in the grove, the father prepares for their sleeping arrangements, slinging the ship's hammocks across the high roots of the trees. Then he covers the area above them with sailcloth to protect them from possible rain and biting insects.

The father and sons then wander to the beach in search of wood to make the ladder and platforms they will build the next day for the tree house.

At first, all they find is driftwood, which is too rough. Then Ernest discovers some bamboo poles half buried in the sand, which are exactly what they needed. They cut the bamboo into five-foot lengths and bind them to carry back. The father also cuts smaller reeds to carve into arrows.

As...

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Chapter 10 Summary

The father has made bows and arrows for all the boys, and the next day they practice their shooting. Later, while they are making more arrows, the boys hear a shot and then Ernest shouting after two small birds fall to the ground. The father notes the names of the birds and tells the boys that in Europe, these birds are considered a great delicacy. Their treehouse is on a fig tree and the birds are attracted to the fruit, so their chances of having fine meals from these delicious birds are very good. After making more arrows, the father also creates quivers so each boy can carry arrows on his back.

Over dinner, the conversation turns to choosing names for various places on the island. Fritz wants to call the bay where...

(The entire section is 400 words.)

Chapter 11 Summary

The father returns to the beach and collects driftwood, thinking it will be perfect to build a "sledge," a sled built on runners rather than wheels and used to transport materials. To help him, he awakens Ernest, whom the father considers prone to laziness. As they walk toward the beach, the father asks Ernest if he feels sorry for himself for having been roused. Ernest acknowledges his laziness but says he has been trying to break himself of it, so he is glad his father awoke him so early. The father commends his self reflection.

While collecting driftwood, the father finds a small chest. At the house, the other boys are excited until they open it; the chest is filled with clothes. The father reminds them that after...

(The entire section is 403 words.)

Chapter 12 Summary

The next day when it is time for the father and Fritz to leave for their trip back to the shipwreck, the father calls out for Ernest and Jack so that he can leave instructions for their day. However, the younger sons are nowhere to be found. The father must leave, but before he does, he tells his wife to discipline the boys upon their return. They know that they must not leave the area around the house without first informing their parents.

As the father and Fritz near the Jackal River, they are pounced upon by Ernest and Jack, who have been waiting for their arrival. The younger boys thought this would be a good joke on their father and oldest brother. The younger brothers also had hoped that by stealing away and...

(The entire section is 518 words.)

Chapter 13 Summary

Upon returning to the ship the next day with his sons Jack and Fritz, the father is surprised when he comes across a package containing the components for making a "pinnace," a small sailboat, complete with a proper mast, a sail, and rigging. The package even contains a couple of small brass guns to be mounted on the boat when it is completed. The father exclaims that this is one of their greatest discoveries. When constructed, this boat will prove to be much safer than the rafts they have been using to travel between the island and the shipwreck. Jack is most excited, however, upon discovering three wheelbarrows, which he envisions will help the family transport potatoes and other wild foods from the fields back to their home....

(The entire section is 449 words.)

Chapter 14 Summary

On the next trip to the ship, the father takes all his sons, except the very youngest. The father will need the boys' assistance if he wants to put the small sailboat together. The mother is reluctant to allow her sons to leave the island. Although she always worries that they will not return safely, she finally gives her blessing to the project.

Upon reaching the ship, the father notes how cleverly every piece of the unmade sailboat has been numbered to aid construction. However, the various pieces lie in a dimly lit, tightly confined space in the hull of the ship; even reaching them will be very difficult. Also, the separate pieces are very heavy. Lifting them will be a great challenge. The father and his sons...

(The entire section is 621 words.)

Chapter 15 Summary

Taking a day off to celebrate Sunday, the father decides to engage his sons athletically. First he has them run, leap, wrestle, and climb, telling them they should practice daily to build strength. To encourage exercise, he also incorporates new skills, such as using a lasso like those he has seen Mexicans and South American tribes use. The lasso is a rope contraption with stones fastened to one end. The trick is to twirl the rope overhead and release it toward a target. The stone wraps the rope around the target, which comes in handy, he tells them, when aimed at a cow's legs or tiger's neck. The pressure causes the animal to stop running and sometimes makes them fall.

They create the lassos quickly. Fritz is first to...

(The entire section is 405 words.)

Chapter 16 Summary

After collecting many bags of wax berries, they declare themselves candlemakers and set to work. The father is not certain about how to make them, although he has seen the process. Elizabeth makes wicks from fibers pulled from sailcloth while the father boils the berries and skims off wax. Next they dip the wicks and hang them to dry. Once the wicks cool, they dip again, repeating this several times until the wax has the desired thickness. They let the candles harden, and for the first time since arriving, they have enough light to illuminate their quarters and stay up past sundown.

The next day, the father and boys work to attach wheels from the ship to the sledge. Although not perfect, the new cart will be easier for...

(The entire section is 404 words.)

Chapter 17 Summary

At the end of one day on their camping trip, they hear their donkey braying loudly and see it kick up its hoofs and, without apparent cause, run into a thicket of tall bamboo. They follow the donkey and send the dogs to chase it without success. They are worried as they depend on the donkey to pull their new cart, but since it is getting dark, they cannot chase it.

In the morning, the father half expects to find the donkey outside their tent, but there is no sign of the animal. The father is determined to find it. He leaves his oldest son behind to guard Elizabeth and the remaining sons and takes Jack and both dogs to help him in his search.

At first, the father and Jack follow hoof marks in the soft dirt....

(The entire section is 382 words.)

Chapter 18 Summary

Elizabeth complains that it is too difficult for her to climb the rope ladder to their quarters on the large tree. She asks if her husband might devise another way to ascend. The father puzzles over this until he realizes a staircase might be built on the inside of the trunk. He remembers that Franz has seen bees enter the tree, making the father consider whether the trunk is hollow.

As soon as the older boys hear about the possibilities, they begin exploring the hole where Franz has seen bees enter. The boys' enthusiasm quickly fades when each suffers several bee stings. After applying mud to their faces and hands to draw out the bee venom and soothe the pain, the father shows his sons a better plan for getting at the...

(The entire section is 385 words.)

Chapter 19 Summary

One morning, the family hears a loud ruckus; outside is their long-missing donkey accompanied by what the father identifies as an onager, a relative of the donkey family found in parts of Asia. The family is happy to see their donkey, named Grizzle. Grizzle is easily tempted by food the boys set out, but the onager is wary of humans. Eventually they tie a noose around her and secure her to their treehouse.

The next day, the father is determined to tame the onager and tries to do so as he has read cowboys in North America tame their horses. He jumps on the onager's back and seizes her ears, holding on for a very tumultuous ride. The onager finally gives in and allows the boys to ride her.

As the father senses...

(The entire section is 403 words.)

Chapter 20 Summary

The rains finally stop, and the family celebrates spring by fixing up both their abodes, which were damaged by the rain and wind. First they refurbish Falcolnhurst, and then they travel to Tentholm, where they plan to stay for awhile.

At Tentholm, they are dismayed to see how much damage the winter storms have caused: their tent torn to shreds, their provisions useless, and even some precious gunpowder spoiled. However, they are pleased that their new sailboat weathered the storms. The rafts, however, were broken to pieces.

Thinking ahead to the next winter, the father decides to create a place safe from the elements, a strong storage spot to protect themselves and their belongings. Fritz comes up with the...

(The entire section is 398 words.)

Chapter 21 Summary

As the weather continues to improve, the family searches for places that might serve them better. Their idea is to build several dwellings spaced throughout the island. Each place will provide shelters at various intervals so they can more easily explore without having to camp or travel back to their main dwelling. The separate dwellings each offer different advantages. One has a pasture nearby that will feed their grass-grazing and seed-eating animals. Another sits on top of a hill, giving the family a wide view of the coastline.

As they journey across the island, they first come across the site that would make an excellent pasture. Below the pasture runs a pleasant brook. Small groves of trees surround the grasslands,...

(The entire section is 411 words.)

Chapter 22 Summary

The family cow gives birth to a male calf, and the father must decide who will care for him. All the other animals have been assigned. Ernest trains his monkey. Jack raises the buffalo calf and a jackal cub. Fritz watches over the onager. In addition to all of Elizabeth's tasks is the care of Grizzle, the donkey. The father cares for the others.

The only member of the family without an animal is the youngest boy, Franz. The father asks Franz if he is up to the task. The boy is ecstatic. Franz had heard about a boy who raised a calf, and now he wants to try it. He hopes that if he teaches the calf to obey him while it is young, he will be able to ride it when the calf reaches full size, just like the boy in the story....

(The entire section is 403 words.)

Chapter 23 Summary

To celebrate the anniversary, the father announces a sports carnival, a grand display of athleticism. He and his wife will be both spectators and judges and will offer prizes for each competition. The events include shooting, running, riding, leaping, climbing, and swimming.

The first event is shooting. The father has set up a target, a board in the shape of a kangaroo. Three boys are enrolled, Fritz, Ernest, and Jack. The first target is stationary, and Fritz proves to be the best shot. When the father creates a moving target by throwing a smaller piece of wood into the air, Ernest is the winner. After shooting comes archery, at which even little Franz proves quite skilled.

After a short break, the boys...

(The entire section is 404 words.)

Chapter 24 Summary

This chapter is titled "A Midnight Raid" and centers on a mischievous band of monkeys. Visiting their house in the prairie at The Woodlands, the family finds that the house that they built has been ravaged. All the food has been gotten into, and all the animals are scattered into the woods. Tables and chairs are overturned and clothes torn and tossed about. After looking for clues, they conclude that monkeys caused the damage, so the father and his sons decide to set a trap.

They return to the prairie house with new weapons. Instead of using guns, they string netting smeared with a very sticky tar mixture. They also paint the trunks of trees nearby, as well as anything the monkeys might touch. To lure the the monkey...

(The entire section is 380 words.)

Chapter 25 Summary

With bad weather setting in, the family takes up residence at Tenthurst for the next few months. The winds have been causing huge ocean swells, and the skies are almost always gray with thick clouds.

Because of the low light, the cave house they have built feels oppressive. To remedy this, the father and Jack rig a new light. They find a bamboo pole that will reach from the floor to the ceiling. Then after securing it, Jack climbs to the top of the pole and hangs a large oil lamp that they had rescued from the ship. The artificial light fills the cave, making the room feel more comfortable.

Since the weather is not conducive to outdoor activities, the family spends their time arranging the interior rooms of...

(The entire section is 532 words.)

Chapter 26 Summary

The next day is spent processing the whale blubber. The blubber must be boiled and then pressed in order to extract the oil. The smell is horrendous. Everyone is happy when the task is completed.

Afterward, the father attempts to devise a rowing machine. He places an iron bar across the top of his boat. The bar is long enough to extend a foot beyond each side of the boat. Onto each end of the bar, he then attaches paddles; he rigs a cogged wheel and winds it up. When he releases the spring, the wheel turns, and the paddles move the boat forward. His family is delighted with his invention.

The father and Fritz are the first ones to try out the new contraption. As the rest of the family cheers from the beach,...

(The entire section is 522 words.)

Chapter 27 Summary

Fritz is outside his cave home at Tentholm with his parents when he sees something very strange. He describes it as something that draws up into coils and then raises itself into the air before it sinks back down and coils its body again. As Elizabeth hears his description, she becomes worried and calls out to the other boys who are playing farther away from the house. The family members then retreat into the cave, retrieve their guns, and aim them out the upper windows. The father takes out his spyglass to get a better look at the creature. It is, as he has feared, a giant snake.

The boys want to shoot the snake immediately. However, the father cannot allow this; so far the reptile has done no harm. Besides, the snake...

(The entire section is 563 words.)

Chapter 28 Summary

The father insists on following the trail of the dead boa to find out if there are any other snakes like it. This means that he must trudge through the marsh. His sons are very reluctant to go with him, but he insists. They take some wooden boards with them to use in walking over the boggy ground. They place the boards in front of them, cross over, pick them up, and then repeat the process to keep moving forward.

They search the whole marsh in this way but do not find any more serpents, although they do find the boa's track. The search goes on for two days. At the end of the second day, they come across another cave. The floor of the cave is covered in what looks like white soil. Touching it, the father finds that it...

(The entire section is 462 words.)

Chapter 29 Summary

Still fearful of the boa constrictor and wondering if there might be more like it, the father and his sons set out to explore as much of the island as they can. During their first day of camping, they come across the sugarcane fields they had discovered months ago and renew their enjoyment of the sweet juice. While they are refreshing themselves, they hear their dogs barking in the distance. When they look in the direction of the sounds, they find a single line of strange animals running out of the thickest part of the sugarcane. The animals look like small pigs, but they have very pointed snouts with sharp, short tusks. The father shoots two of the creatures before the rest of the herd gets away.

They are probably...

(The entire section is 442 words.)

Chapter 30 Summary

Once again exploring the island, the father and three of his sons have traveled to a place where they have never been. This part of the island is dry like a desert. The heat is oppressive, and the scenery seems very strange to them since they have lived on the wet, lush side of the island.

While they walk, Fritz shouts out that he sees horsemen. Concerned, the father takes out his spyglass and attempts to identify the figures galloping toward them. Whatever they are, though, they are too far away for him to recognize. The boys agree on Fritz's assertion that they are horsemen, until the father looks a second time and realizes that he sees a flock of ostriches.

As the huge birds draw even nearer to them, the...

(The entire section is 455 words.)

Chapter 31 Summary

The boys return from their first solo hunting trip with many stories to tell. They herded several antelope onto their territory either to use as meat or raise for the future.

Fritz says it was exhilarating to take their animals onto the open prairie and give them room to fully gallop at top speed. It was at the top of a hill that they saw the antelope. At first, they thought they would run down and shoot as many as possible but decided it would be even better to steer them home. So they rode down, formed a semicircle behind the pack and with the help of their dogs, guided the animals along the stream to home.

The boys also brought back some angora rabbits. The father is concerned since rabbits multiply so...

(The entire section is 400 words.)

Chapter 32 Summary

It is time for the family to return to Tentholm. On their way they stop at their various abodes to organize the houses, tend the animals they are leaving behind, and look over their plants and trees. Everything seems to be thriving, and the family is pleased.

Finally they are back in the salt cave. Once they are rested and their loads put in place, the father focuses on training the ostrich. This does not prove easy as the ostrich is extremely belligerent. The father remembers a trick he used to help Jack tame the falcon. He fills his pipe with tobacco and works up a good smoke, which he blows in the ostrich's face. To his dismay, it puts the large bird into a deep sleep. When the bird awakens, he will not eat.

...

(The entire section is 399 words.)

Chapter 33 Summary

Another winter is upon the family. The wind and rain pound against the rock-walled cave. Although they are safe and dry inside with plenty of provisions, they grow depressed. They are used to being outside, and the long hours in the cave make them feel very dreary.

To occupy their minds, the father suggests they make another boat, tightly constructed but very light and modeled after a Greenlander's kayak. Everyone but Elizabeth is excited and quickly jumps to the task. Elizabeth constantly fears they will drown; the lighter the boat, she imagines, the more easily it will tip.

Attempting to allay her fears, the father promises this boat will be much sturdier than any of the others. He uses whalebones for the...

(The entire section is 391 words.)

Chapter 34 Summary

There are two seasons of planting. The first is ending, and harvesting is upon the family. The crops have done so well that collecting the grains and starches is overwhelming. To ease their burden, the father tells his family they will harvest their crops the Italian rather than Swiss way.

The boys and their father reap the grains without completely cutting down the stalks. Elizabeth finds this wasteful and begs them to cut the entire length of the stalks, normally used for animal fodder. The father insists this applies too much pressure on the boys' backs; they would spend the day bent over. If they stand upright, grab the stalks, and cut off the heads of the grain, they can harvest more without wearing out. Later...

(The entire section is 399 words.)

Chapter 35 Summary

Fritz is about to embark on his first solo kayak trip. He dons the swimming suit and feels strange puffing into tubes to inflate the suit, making him look twice his size. Of course, his family cannot help but laugh.

Before leaving, Fritz practices several maneuvers, rowing swiftly, veering right and left, and flinging the boat on its side and righting it. When he feels ready and has received his family's applause and encouragement, Fritz rows the kayak into the river current that will take him to the bay. The current proves stronger than he anticipated and soon Fritz is farther out into the ocean than intended.

The father cannot allow Fritz to be truly on his own. When Fritz is out of sight, he and two sons...

(The entire section is 408 words.)

Chapter 36 Summary

Fritz, Jack, and young Franz plan another hunting trip on their own. Just before they leave, their father notices Jack has slipped a basket with several pigeons onto the cart. He says nothing, believing Jack has done so as backup for food. Although pigeon meat is not tasty, the father surmises it is better than nothing.

The boys leave with the buffalo and the bull pulling the wagon in which Fritz and Franz ride. Jack has chosen to ride his ostrich, Hurricane, and is far ahead of them. Fawn and Bruno are the two dogs that accompany them.

After their departure, the father and Ernest continue constructing a sugar mill. The father notices Ernest seems to be hiding a smile, as if he has a secret. Later, when the...

(The entire section is 379 words.)

Chapter 37 Summary

The father saddles a donkey and rides to their rescue. Before he leaves, he asks Elizabeth and Ernest to follow with their cart and provisions for a month. He calculates it will take several weeks to build a stronger residence to replace the demolished one.

Nearing the area, he sees massive damage to trees as well as many huge footprints, which he identifies as belonging to an elephant herd. The footprints, to his great relief, have moved in two different directions—one forward, the other returning. He hopes the herd has moved back to their normal feeding grounds on the wilder side of the island.

Reaching his sons, the father is very relieved to find them well. Through the night, as they sit by their...

(The entire section is 386 words.)

Chapter 38 Summary

"After Ten Years" explains the passage of time. The young boys are now young men, and their parents are very proud. They call the island New Switzerland. Tentholm (now called Rockburg because of their cave-like residence) continues to be their winter home because of its protection from storms. Falconhurst is home in the summer months, close to their cultivated fields and away from the hot beach. Out in Safety Bay lies Shark Island, planted with coconut trees and decorated with a tall lookout tower. They have cleaned the swamp, which now boasts a beautiful lake with a flock of black swans. The African bullfrogs have attained their full size, as large as rabbits, and respond to Jack's call.

Elizabeth and the boys are all...

(The entire section is 395 words.)

Chapter 39 Summary

The morning after Fritz's journey, when he discovered the pearls, the boy tells his father he also found a mysterious message. He did not want to alarm the others and waited to tell his father in private.

On the shore of another island, Fritz had knocked down an albatross threatening to attack him and found a rag tied to the large bird's leg. On the rag was a message that an Englishwoman was stranded on the "smoking rock." Fritz had no idea how old the message was. His father suggests that "smoking rock" sounds like a reference to a volcano. Since there are no volcanoes in the vicinity, the bird might have come from hundreds of miles away.

Despite his father's convictions, Fritz feels that someone needs...

(The entire section is 406 words.)

Chapter 40 Summary

Lying on the sailboat's deck, the family is awakened by strange, ferocious howls and roars from the neighboring woods. Fritz jumps up and adds wood to the beach fire to increase the flames. He tells everyone to stay on the boat as he attempts to find out what is making the noise. Everyone loads their guns, staying watchful.

The first thing they see are the dogs running from the woods to huddle on the opposite side of the fire. They stare toward the woods, bodies erect as the roars come closer. The father remembers the boar they killed and thinks that whatever animal is making the sounds is coming because of the scent of the boar's blood.

Then a magnificent lion emerges out of the dark shadows. The animal...

(The entire section is 405 words.)

Chapter 41 Summary

At home, the family mourns and buries their much loved pet, Juno. This temporarily takes their minds off Fritz's absence. After five days, the father begins to worry. On the sixth day, the family boards the sailboat, determined to find Fritz.

As they head for the island of the oysters, the last place they had seen Fritz, it is not the hidden reefs and rocks making their journey dangerous. This time it is a whale. The father identifies it as a cachalot whale, known for its bad temper and tendency to ram against boats, causing great damage. The father takes aim. Finally a bullet makes its mark and the whale turns away, leaving blood in its wake.

The family's fears are only momentarily diminished as ahead they...

(The entire section is 412 words.)

Chapter 42 Summary

For the next few minutes, the brothers tease Fritz about rescuing a girl. When finished laughing, they cheer the addition of a "sister" to their family.

Fritz tells the girl's story. Her name is Jenny, and she is the daughter of a British officer who served for many years in India. Jenny's mother died when she was three.

When her father was ordered to return home to England, he booked a passage for his daughter on a commercial ship. The ship ran into a storm and sank with all hands on board, except Jenny. This happened three years earlier. In the meantime, Jenny survived on her own. Fritz says he was amazed at all she had accomplished. She had built a tree structure, similar to their own at Falconhurst. She...

(The entire section is 395 words.)

Chapter 43 Summary

One evening as the brothers and Jenny practice shooting, they hear three guns booming across the water. This stops everyone. Never have they heard such sounds coming from the island. What if the guns belong to pirates who intend to do them harm?

As their initial fears subside, they consider that the guns could be signals from a friendly ship. Fritz and Franz are the most excited. When their father hears the longing in their voices, he realizes they must be craving a more civilized life. Having Jenny in their presence might have spawned these desires.

The father decides to sleep on the matter and its consequences, although he sits on the porch all night, keeping vigil.

The next day, a...

(The entire section is 401 words.)

Chapter 44 Summary

By morning, Elizabeth and her husband have confided in one another that they do not wish to live anywhere but on the island. They have been there for so long and have grown used to their life. They have no desire to return to the lifestyle that had been part of their past. They realize, though, that their sons might not feel the same way. They will allow their sons to make their own decisions.

Three of the passengers on the British ship ask permission to set up a colony on the island. The life they see that the family has established is very appealing to them. The people on the island receive this news gladly. In the midst of the celebration, Jenny asks if anyone will support her return to England. She says that if...

(The entire section is 484 words.)