The Swiss Family Robinson

by Johann David Wyss, Johann Rudolf Wyss

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How do characters in The Swiss Family Robinson make their utensils?

Quick answer:

In The Swiss Family Robinson, the characters carve their utensils from gourds that Mr. Robinson cut down from the calabash trees.

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While the Robinson family is able to retrieve a large supply of knives, forks, and spoons from the ship, they are lacking in other eating utensils, such as bowls or plates. Therefore, once safely onshore, they head out to Calabash Wood, where they hope to find materials to craft a large number of needed utensils.

Once in the woods, Mr. Robinson cuts down the gourds from the calabash trees. Everyone in the family then goes to work creating what dishes they can. As Mr. Robinson puts it,

Every one engaged merrily in the work of cutting, carving, sawing and scooping some manner of dish, bowl, cup, jar or platter, according to his several taste or ability.

This incident illustrates several aspects of the Robinson's life on the island. First, the island supplies them with a bounty of raw materials and resources that they can use both to survive and thrive. Second, the abundance, and the way their needs are met, present proof of providence, especially in the eyes of Mr. Robinson, who is a pastor. The island and his family's experience on it demonstrate that God provides for his people. Finally, the resources at hand are made useful because of the willingness and eagerness of the family members to be resourceful, work hard, and make do with what is at hand. In these ways, the novel is a successor to the much earlier Robinson Crusoe, in which similar messages are communicated.

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