What did Fritz think the coconut tree found on the ground was?

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Fritz doesn't find a coconut tree on the ground, but he does find a coconut. He trips over it early in his family's long adventure of shipwreck, when he and his father are exploring the tropical island. At first, Fritz jumps to the conclusion that it's a bird's nest, because the coconut has lost its protective green cover.

Fritz's father informs him that he is, in fact, holding a coconut. His father has been hoping they would find coconuts. He says to his son,

you need not necessarily conclude that every round hairy thing is a bird's nest; this, for instance, is not one, but a cocoanut.

Coconuts will become an important food source for the Robinson family, preferable to lobster. They will also be able to fashion the coconut shells into bowls.

As the parents recognize, the abundance of natural goods on the island, including coconuts, represents God's provision.

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In Chapter 2 of The Swiss Family Robinson and William Robinson and his son Fritz are out foraging for food. Suddenly, Fritz catches sight of what he thinks is a monkey up a tree. As he rushes to the other side of the tree to investigate, Fritz stumbles over a strange round substance which he hands to his father. Fritz says that he thinks it's a round bird's nest, the kind of which he's often heard. But it isn't a bird's nest, or anything like it; it's actually a coconut, as William helpfully explains. When the coconut's cracked open, William and Fritz are disappointed to discover that the kernel is dry and inedible. Fritz may have mistaken a coconut for a round bird's nest, but even he knows that a good coconut is supposed to be full of delicious, sweet liquid.

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