What does this line from Robinson Crusoe refer to?"Had I now had the sense to have gone back to Hull, and have gone home, I had been happy, and my father, as in our blessed Saviour's parable, had...

What does this line from Robinson Crusoe refer to?

"Had I now had the sense to have gone back to Hull, and have gone home, I had been happy, and my father, as in our blessed Saviour's parable, had even killed the fatted calf for me..."

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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A good portion of Daniel Defoe's landmark novel Robinson Crusoe is devoted to Crusoe's conversion from a vague faith to full Christianity. This is represented as a series of events that slowly push him towards understanding the role of God in his life.

In the first chapter, Crusoe discusses his stubborn attitude towards travel and his family; his father, who has already lost a son, wants Crusoe to remain at home and study for a career in law:

I would be satisfied with nothing but going to sea; and my inclination to this led me so strongly against the will, nay, the commands of my father...
(Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, eNotes eText)

His father, here, is a subtle metaphor for God; Crusoe rejects his "commands" and is punished with his shipwreck. Continuing this religious theme, Crusoe sets out on his journeys, suffers a smaller shipwreck, and writes:

Had I now had the sense to have gone back to Hull, and have gone home, I had been happy, and my father, as in our blessed Saviour's parable, had even killed the fatted calf for me; for hearing the ship I went away in was cast away in Yarmouth Roads, it was a great while before he had any assurances that I was not drowned.
(Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, eNotes eText)

This is a reference to the Biblical Parable of the Lost Son, who squanders his wealth and then returns in shame to his father, who accepts him with open arms. Crusoe understands, in maturation, that despite his rebellion, his father would have taken him back into the house. The "fatted calf" is a metaphor for the love that a father has for his son; Crusoe has had his adventure and if he had returned, his father would have understood it and accepted it: Crusoe had "been lost, and now was found," as was the son of the parable. However, Crusoe continues to sail, and the metaphor becomes one of hindsight.

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