How does Robinson Crusoe's state of mind enable him to live on the island?

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More than anything else, Robinson Crusoe's a businessman, and a very hard-headed businessman at that. He looks at the world largely in terms of the bottom line, of profit and loss. Over the course of his business career, he's encountered quite a few serious setbacks, the most serious of which was undoubtedly his mercifully brief experience of captivity as a slave. All things considered, then, being washed up alone on a desert island—especially one that has everything he needs to survive—isn't really that big of a deal to him. He's been in far worse situations before, yet has always managed to come out on top in the end.

Crusoe's life experiences have given him the kind of practical, down-to-earth mindset that he'll need if he's to survive in his new environment. At the same time, it also makes him more than a tad complacent; at no point does he acknowledge the hand of God in his good fortune, and for someone living in the seventeenth century, that would've been unusual, to say the least. Thankfully, Crusoe snaps out of his arrogance due to a dramatic religious conversion. From now on, he'll adopt a more humble demeanor toward the world, even though there will still be many moral lapses along the bumpy, treacherous path of righteousness.

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Robinson Crusoe is particularly characterized as an economic man in the passage in which he charts the “Good” and “Evil” in his life. (“I now began to consider seriously my condition…on the credit side of the account.”) Even in the most desolate straits, and even through religious reference, Crusoe never stops seeing the world through the lens of practicality.

He says, “I stated very impartially, like debtor and creditor, the comforts I enjoyed against the miseries I suffered.” He is a man who catalogues everything—not just the money he has or the material items he owns—but also things which should be intangible, such as the “condition” of his life. Starvation, isolation, and spirituality are not things that are usually spoken about “impartially,” yet Crusoe does so in the most economic, detached manner possible.

The passage is driven by financial expression rather than emotional expression. His state of being is carefully calculated and balanced like a bank account. He efficiently evaluates the “Good” and “Evil” of his fate. For instance, “I have no clothes to cover me” is in the “Evil” side of the chart, but it is balanced out by “But I am in a hot climate, where, if I had clothes, I could hardly wear them.” All the “Evil” things are countered by the fact that there is a “But…” in the “Good.” It is like a cost-effective strategy in business terms. Crusoe comes to terms with his hardships because of his economic frame of mind. The credit and debit chart is Crusoe’s way of demonstrating “that we may always find in it something to comfort ourselves from, and to set, in the description of good and evil, on the credit side of the account.” Even though he references religion in his chart—“God wonderfully sent the ship in near enough to the shore, that I have got out as many necessary things as will either supply my wants or enable me to supply myself, even as long as I live”—his comfort does not come from faith itself, it comes from the “credit side of the account.”

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