What is a minor theme in The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss and Johann Rudolph Wyss?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The classic young reader's novel The Swiss Family Robinson was first written by Johann David Wyss, who was a Swiss clergyman. He had written it for his own family of four sons, just as the father in the book had four sons, and intended it to be a guide on surviving in nature and living to the best of one's abilities. Since the book was first written by a clergyman, it reflects Johann David's strong faith in God, making faith in God one of the most dominant minor themes. Later, one of Johann David's sons, Johann Rudolph, asked permission to revise the book into the current version we know. Since Johan Rudolph was a professor of philosophy, he carefully worked the minor theme of faith in God into the more central theme of uniting as a family to overcome hardships.

The minor theme of faith in God is present at the very start of the book. The father and narrator describes that, while in the midst of a tempest at sea, the ship's crew began crying "to God for mercy." In addition, as the father was overpowered with sorrow looking at his four young sons who were terrified, he reminded them, "If the Lord will, he can save us even from this fearful peril." He further reminds them that their salvation is in God's hands, and should God choose not to save them, then they should rejoice to think they would die together as a family and remain united in heaven.

As the story continues, characters frequently remind each other of God's teachings as a means of keeping each other strong and on the right track. In addition, prayers and petitions for God's blessings are daily made.

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