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Robinson Crusoe

Daniel Defoe

Summary and Analysis Chapter 9-11


Having now become aware of the rainy season and the dry season, Crusoe resolved to sow his grain during the dry season. Sowing about two-thirds of his grain, it happened that not one grain came up because of the dry months following. He planted the rest in February, taking advantage of the rains in March and April, and it yielded a good crop. By thus experimenting, he discovered that he could expect two seeding times and two harvests per year.

Taking some time to visit his bower (his summer home), he found to his delight that some of the stakes that he had used in his hedge had grown with long branches so that it supplied him with shade.

After careful observation and bookkeeping, he found that he was able to predict accurately the exact divisions of the year so that he knew reasonably well when he could plant and when he could not. He next learned how to make baskets out of twigs so that he would have containers to hold his harvests. He then endeavored to supply himself with vessels to hold liquids and a pot to boil things in.

Once again, Crusoe decided to explore the island, this time journeying across the island to the opposite seashore. He sees land, which he thinks would not be more than fifteen to twenty leagues away, yet he does not know if it would be the safe land of the Americans or of the Spanish, which would be occupied by cannibals.

He found that this part of the island was much more lush than his own part. On his journey, he caught a young parrot, but it was many years before he could teach it to speak. He also found more she-goats and also some penguins. Even though he realized that this part of the country was nicer than his own, he had begun to think of his part of the island as "home" and he longed to return there.

Fixing a post to mark his travels, he then endeavored to take a different way back, but he soon found himself lost in a large, deep valley. He was forced to return to the pole and come back the way he had gone. In his journey, his dog came upon, and caught, a young kid, which Crusoe brought back to his summer home. After Crusoe returned to his habitation, he spent a week building a cage for his parrot. He then thought of going back to get the kid from his bower. It was so hungry that once it was fed, it became quite tame and followed Crusoe home like a dog.

By this time it was the 30th of September and he had spent two years on the island. He spent the entire day thanking God and cursing his past wickedness. Sometimes at his work, he was struck with despair, seeing himself as a prisoner locked in by the ocean. But he read the Bible daily and believed that God had not forsaken him.

Once again, Crusoe outlined his day, including time for a daily reading of the scriptures. He then describes the work it took to build the shelf, a full three days cutting down the tree. By this, he began to learn the value of patience and labor. It now being November and December, he looked to harvesting his barley and rice.

Fearful of losing his crop to wild hares, he endeavored to enclose his crop with a hedge, but to no avail. He was threatened not only by hares, but also by numerous birds, and he tried to guard his crop with his gun by shooting at the occasional intruders. Drawing on his knowledge of English punishment of thieves, he killed three of the birds and hanged them in chains over the crops, which not only kept the other birds from the crops but made them leave that part of the island altogether.

Having no scythe or sickle, he improvised, using a cutlass, which he had saved from the ship. And even though his crop was small, he was greatly encouraged.

When he made an inventory of all the implements that he did not possess — a spade, a harrow, etc., — he listed the other things which he was able to substitute for implements. He puzzled as to how to make his own bread from his crop of barley and spent the next six months furnishing himself with utensils to grind the barley and bake the bread.

During rainy days, he spent his time teaching his parrot to speak, and this delighted him since he had heard no words except his own since first coming to the island. He also began to experiment with clay, attempting to make earthenware vessels. He made many mistakes in his first attempts, but finally succeeded in making two large jars to hold his corn. With more practice, he turned out little pots, dishes, and pitchers.

His next difficulty was to make some type of mortar so that he could grind or pulverize his grains, and then to make some sort of sieve to sift his produce. Then he needed an oven. This he accomplished by heating earthen vessels on a large fire and baking the bread between the vessels. This took up most of his third year on the island.

His crops increasing, he began to think how to increase his storage areas. Once again when left to his thoughts, he feared all sorts of unknown dangers. The thought of cannibals or of wild animals made him very apprehensive. He looked out to see if anything of the ship was still visible, but saw only her remains. He spent three or four weeks wondering how he could fashion a boat to leave the island. He managed to re-fit the ship's lifeboat, but since it was beached and very heavy, he did not have the strength to launch it into the water.


In Chapter 9, "I Sow My Grain," Defoe continues to show us how ingenious Robinson Crusoe is as he is able to master the elements and is able to plant two crops a year, and is also able to master the art of basket weaving in order to have some containers for his harvest.

In Chapter 10, although Crusoe is surrounded with the bounty of the island, he is anguished at his condition: "My very heart would die within me to think of the woods, the mountains, the deserts I was in; and how I was a prisoner locked up with the eternal bars and bolts of the ocean, in an uninhabited wilderness, without redemption." Adam and Eve in a similar garden were banished from it as punishment to show that aspirations and defiance were not acceptable in the eyes of God. Crusoe, on the other hand, was banished to an earthly paradise because of the "wicked, cursed, abominable life I led all the past part of my days."

In Chapter II, "I Am Very Seldom Idle," Crusoe is seen continuing in his varied activities involved with survival, but he is beginning to expand on the number of things that he can accomplish. By the end of this chapter, Crusoe has been on the island for three full years.