Chapters 15-16 Summary

Robinson Crusoe has now been shipwrecked on the island four years. Each year he keeps the anniversary as a time of penance and thanksgiving to God. He reflects that he has received great benefit from being separated from the rest of the world. He is removed from the pull of fleshly desires, and he is the ruler of his own little world. He has food and provisions enough; if he had more, it would just go to waste. He even has some money (about thirty-six pounds) that serves no purpose. He has learned to be content with what he has. He sees his isolation, compared to his previous sinful existence, as a sign of God’s mercy.

Over time, many of the things he brought on the island from the ship have disappeared. He has long run out of ink, even though he watered down what he had. His clothes are falling to pieces. He still has several shirts he found on the ship, and he is content with these. The temperature is so hot he does not need more. He has found that the sun’s rays are uncomfortable if he goes naked or without a hat. He contrives an umbrella to protect him as he walks about. He reflects on the fact that so many momentous events in his life have occurred on the same date: he was captured and enslaved exactly a year after he left his home, and he was shipwrecked on his birthday (September 30). Nonetheless, he is resigned to the will of God and throws himself on Divine Providence.

As he completes six years on the island, Crusoe manages to finish a canoe and get it into the water. It is smaller than he wanted it to be so he could use it to reach the mainland, but it will suffice for now. He stocks it with provisions and sets off to explore the waters around the island. However, a current catches him and takes his canoe out to sea. He manages to rig his sails in order to escape the current and reach land once more, just a short distance from where he launched. Crusoe feels overcome by the fear and strain of the ordeal. He makes it as far as his bower and then falls asleep, but he is awakened by a voice crying, “Poor Robin Crusoe. Where have you been?” He is startled but sees that it is only Poll the Parrot, repeating the words Crusoe himself said so often.