Chapter 3 Summary
In the morning, the father and Fritz leave to scour the island for food, survivors, and possibly a better location to set up camp.
They traverse the river, then walk upstream until they come to a grove of trees. One tree grows what look like gourds on its trunk. The father tells Fritz the gourds will make excellent bowls and spoons, and they cut them into various utensils. They set them to dry in the sun, planning to pick them up on their way back.
The father, a traveler and great reader, shows Fritz how the native cultures he studied carve the gourds with a string. He also explains that ancient people used the gourds to cook. However, they did not place the gourds on a fire since they would burn. Rather, they filled them with hot water and then steamed food inside the gourds.
At the top of a tall hill, father and son can see most of the coastline. There are no lifeboats in sight. There are also no people on the beach. The father concludes that the crew must have perished in the storm. Otherwise, the scenery is very beautiful. However, they feel a tinge of loneliness, knowing they are likely the only people on the island. As far as they can see, there is no other land near them.
As they walk down the hill, the father fears stepping on venomous snakes, so he has one of the dogs walk in front of them. The dogs can smell and notice the snakes more quickly, hopefully before they can do harm.
Farther on, they find a clump of sugar canes. The father instantly identifies the plant but does not tell Fritz. Instead, he instructs Fritz on how to cut the cane and then suck out the sweet juices. Fritz is so excited about the candy-like treat that he cuts armloads to bring to his family.
Next they find a coconut tree, but the large coconuts are too high to reach. So the father shows Fritz a trick. He has seen two monkeys climb the tree. Once they reach the top, the father throws a stick at them, knowing they will mimic him. Sure enough, a few minutes later, the monkeys pick a few coconuts and throw them to the ground. Fritz gathers them and tastes his first sip of coconut milk.