Chapters 11-12 Summary
As summer begins, Robinson Crusoe is struck with the ague. For several days he suffers from fever and aches and is unable to feed himself. He cries out to God, although he admits he has never seriously prayed before. He dreams that a man of fire descends from the clouds, points a spear at him, and says, “Seeing all these things have not brought thee to repentance, now thou shalt die.” Crusoe had never followed any religious teaching beyond what he had picked up at home. He had prayed some superficial prayers (asking for rescue or giving thanks) but now he considers the events he has undergone as a divine prodding.
As he recovers, he looks at his surroundings and comes to the conclusion that God created all he sees. He takes up one of the Bibles he rescued from the ship and begins to read. He is struck by this verse: “Call on Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver, and thou shalt glorify Me.” He interprets this as an indication that God will deliver him from the island. As he continues to read, however, he sees this more as a deliverance from his past life. His isolation on the island is nothing compared to his isolation from God.
Crusoe learns that being outside in the rainy season affects his health, so he adjusts his hunting periods accordingly. He has been on the island for ten months and decides to explore further. He finds grape vines but is wary of eating them fresh because he remembers how many English slaves died when they ate grapes from the coast of Africa. He plans on drying them into raisins and tries several ways before he hangs them on a tree. He discovers a valley where cocoa, orange, lemon, and citron trees grow. He decides he will build a second home here, which he calls his “summer residence”; he spends the rainy seasons in his cave. He builds a bower surrounded by a fence. When he returns several weeks later, Crusoe finds that the branches he placed in the ground for the fence have bloomed to form a hedge.
Crusoe misses one of his cats and fears that she is dead. However, she returns later with three kittens. This surprises Crusoe because both the cats are female. He speculates that there is a wild cat species on the island close enough to breed. In time, the cats become pests; he drives them away.
He plants only some of his seeds because he is unsure of the growing season. When the seeds do not come up, he plants others in a moister section. After the dry season, the first field grows as if it were just planted. From this Crusoe learns that the island has two growing seasons; he will be able to have two harvests.