Robinson Crusoe Questions and Answers

Daniel Defoe

Read real teacher answers to our most interesting Robinson Crusoe questions.

How does Robinson Crusoe's state of mind enable him to live on the island?

Robinson Crusoe is particularly characterized as an economic man in the passage in which he charts the “Good” and “Evil” in his life. (“I now began to consider seriously my condition…on the credit side of the account.”) Even in the most desolate straits, and even through religious reference, Crusoe never stops seeing the world through the lens of practicality.

He says, “I stated very impartially, like debtor and creditor, the comforts I enjoyed against the miseries I suffered.” He is a man who catalogues everything—not just the money he has or the material items he owns—but also things which should be intangible, such as the “condition” of his life. Starvation, isolation, and spirituality are not things that are usually spoken about “impartially,” yet Crusoe does so in the most economic, detached manner possible.

The passage is driven by financial expression rather than emotional expression. His state of being is carefully calculated and balanced like a bank account. He efficiently evaluates the “Good” and “Evil” of his fate. For instance, “I have no clothes to cover me” is in the “Evil” side of the chart, but it is balanced out by “But I am in a hot climate, where, if I had clothes, I could hardly wear them.” All the “Evil” things are countered by the fact that there is a “But…” in the “Good.” It is like a cost-effective strategy in business terms. Crusoe comes to terms with his hardships because of his economic frame of mind. The credit and debit chart is Crusoe’s way of demonstrating “that we may always find in it something to comfort ourselves from, and to set, in the description of good and evil, on the credit side of the account.” Even though he references religion in his chart—“God wonderfully sent the ship in near enough to the shore, that I have got out as many necessary things as will either supply my wants or enable me to supply myself, even as long as I live”—his comfort does not come from faith itself, it comes from the “credit side of the account.”