Robinson Crusoe

Daneil Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” is about a Englishman who gets shipwrecked on to an uninhabited island (at least, in the parts I’ve read) and has to survive with all that nature provides him. Luckily for him, he is able to get tools off of the boat that he was on. When Crusoe tells us his adventures on the island, I cannot help but think of Lost, Lord of the Flies, and Castaway and every other “stranded on an island” book/movie out there.

Crusoe’s character is one that slides on a scale from good to jackass. For the first 80 pages or so, he is on the right side of the scale. Crusoe as the narrator tells us the advice his father gives him about staying in the “middle life” because that is where it is most comfortable; the lower class has to work everyday just to get by while the upper class is too preoccupied with money that they miss out on life. Crusoe hears his words but doesn’t listen.  He goes out into the world and as misfortune would have it, he gets taken as a slave. He is actually very understanding as to why the Captain took him to be a slave and carries out his slavely duties for two years.  After that he escapes with a boy named Xury, who he sort of makes into his own slave. But later, he sells the boy into slavery for a safe passage to Brazil. (You see what I mean about being on the right side of the scale?) In Brazil he earns money with his plantation and feels bad that he sold Xury after he realizes how much work goes into a plantation and wishes he had some help. (Again, what an ass).  When he gets a proposition to smuggle slaves from Africa from some other Brazilians, he agrees and that’s when he gets shipwrecked.

And he is the only one who survives. After being on the island for almost a year, he experiences his first earthquake. This is the first time religion appears in the book in relation to him because he cries out for the Lord to save him. After that, he becomes ill and has a dream that God is about to kill him because he has not repented for his sins. This is the turning point of religion for me and he prays to God every day after that. He believes God controls everything and therefore God must be controlling his actions and so he finds peace in this rationality about being stuck on the island. These two events inspire Crusoe to become religious; I think if they hadn’t occurred, he would not have given any thought to religion. After this, he reads the Bible and believes it was written to him because he finds lines in there that relate to what he’s experiencing. Having faith in God might also be something to keep his sanity because now he has someone to talk to and something to believe in so he doesn’t go crazy.

Being on an uninhabited island gives Crusoe the will to do as he pleases and he thinks he’s the king of the island. (How pretentious). He builds himself a “country-home” and a “summer house” or whatever it was and soon learns how to bake bread and harvest crops. He exerts his power over the animals of the island because there is no one there for him to boss around.  I think it is a good thing he is the only survivor of the ship because it has caused him to learn how to work for his food and shelter and it has made him religious. For him to see what his father was talking about, he needed to experience the worst life has to offer in order to appreciate the best that he can get.

So far, I enjoy this book.  But the narration is a little confusing because he repeats a lot of things and whether it’s him telling the story or his older self retelling the story is still something I haven’t figured out yet.

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One response to “Robinson Crusoe

  1. “I think it is a good thing he is the only survivor of the ship because it has caused him to learn how to work for his food and shelter and it has made him religious.”

    See, this is the thing I tried (and failed) to bring up in class. For me, this is the exact definition of secularism and what atheists (I guess) try and prove. All this work he puts in is his OWN doing. I suppose you could say it was with God’s blessing that he received such favorable conditions as the guns, and provisions on the boat, etc. But he himself takes the initiative to build up his fort, his cave, his little field, and everything else. That’s why I’m a little confused as to why in the story it’s so interlocked with religion when I see them on opposing ends.

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