Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
Ship. Unnamed vessel on which the Robinsons are traveling when the novel opens. Readers are told little about the ship, except that it is a sizable sailing vessel with a substantial and varied cargo; its name and intended destination are carefully unmentioned. Its main function, while it remains stuck on a rock close to the shore of the island on which the Robinsons are marooned, is to provide the castaways with a rich source of useful materials, including food, tools, gunpowder, livestock, and a small boat.
Refuge Bay. Shore on which the family lands. The exact location of this bay is unspecified. It initially appears to be in a subtropical zone off the coast of either Central or South America because its native floras include coconut palms, potatoes, and sugarcane, while its faunas include penguins, agoutis, and margay cats—all species native to that part of the world. However, as the story continues, the varieties of flora and fauna on the island become improbably elaborate and extraordinarily extensive, eventually even including numerous creatures native to Africa, such as ostriches, hyenas, and a hippopotamus.
The Robinsons’ decision to name their landfall Refuge Bay sets a pattern echoed in other place-names chosen by the castaway family. For example, the promontory on which they search unsuccessfully for the crew of their ship becomes the Cape of Disappointed Hope (a clear takeoff on Southern Africa’s Cape of Good Hope), and the hill on which they make their survey they call the Observatory. Other names are improvised according to circumstance, with a careful simplicity that represents the determined utilitarianism of their approach to life. Thus, the place where they spend their first night becomes Tentbourne, the wetland inland of it Flamingo Swamp, and the stream where they glimpse the eponymous animal, Jackal Brook.
Falconeyrie. Family’s principal dwelling, so called because it is constructed around the base and within the branches of a huge tree. Hastily contrived at first, this home-away-from-home and its surrounding estates are steadily improved, despite the occasional intervention of destructive storms.
Kingdom of Truth
Kingdom of Truth. Allegory constructed by the narrator on the family’s first Sunday ashore...
(The entire section is 975 words.)
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For Further Reference
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Bashore, J. Robert. “Daniel Defoe.” In Writers for Children: Critical Studies of Major Authors Since the Seventeenth Century, edited by Jane Bingham. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1987. A comparison of The Swiss Family Robinson to Robinson Crusoe (1719), examining the enduring appeal of each to a young readership.
Fisher, Margery. Who’s Who in Children’s Books. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975. In a short entry, Fisher argues that rather than being simply a series of loosely connected episodes, the novel is a depiction of a natural and accustomed piety within a family context....
(The entire section is 198 words.)