In Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, how does finding corn and rice growing near his fortress make Crusoe think of God? Does the religious feeling last?  

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Crusoe in Defoe's Robinson Crusoe sees the corn growing and finds rice as well, his thoughts at first turn to God. He is not really a brave man. He is fearful as to how he will survive. He has not given much thought to God in the past. However, he believes that these plants are a sign of a miracle of sorts, in that Crusoe is stranded and in dire need of the means with which to feed himself.

I had hitherto acted upon no religious foundation at all; indeed, I had very few notions of religion in my head, nor had entertained any sense of anything that had befallen me otherwise than as chance...

Seeing plants grow so out of place in this climate which was so alien to the grains, Crusoe sees this as a miraculous gift: he feels blessed that God has reached out to assist him in his time of need.

But after I saw barley grow there, in a climate which I knew was not proper for corn, and especially that I knew not how it came there, it startled me strangely, and I began to suggest that God had miraculously caused His grain to grow without any help of seed sown, and that it was so directed purely for my sustenance on that wild, miserable place.

In this frame of mind, Crusoe sets out looking for other plants. He has forgotten that he shook out what was left of some rotted corn in that place. In other areas, he finds rice stalks growing as he had seen them grow in Africa. All at once, his sense of "God's providence" begins to fade because he sees that the growth of these plants is "common," where nothing miraculous has really occurred. Even that these things might not have grown if he had thrown them elsewhere no longer moves his heart—he considers that God's hand is not at play in this; it is pure chance.

I not only thought these the pure productions of Providence for my support, but not doubting that there was more in the place, I went all over that part of the island, where I had been before, peering in every corner, and under every rock, to see for more of it, but I could not find any.  At last it occurred to my thoughts that I shook a bag of chickens’ meat out in that place; and then the wonder began to cease; and I must confess my religious thankfulness to God’s providence began to abate, too, upon the discovering that all this was nothing but what was common; though I ought to have been as thankful for so strange and unforeseen a providence as if it had been miraculous; for it was really the work of Providence to me...

In reflection, Crusoe believes he still should have seen God's hand in these things for they were no less precious or appreciated by him at that time. However, he lets the sense of the miraculous fade, with no thought that God might be working in his life to help him to survive.



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Robinson Crusoe

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