Robinson Crusoe By Daniel Defoe Summary and Analysis Chapters 22-24

Summary

Crusoe ordered Friday to kill a goat and he made a delicious stew with rice and barley. Taking it to the new arrivals, the four of them ate together in the tent, cheered by the meal. Crusoe sent Friday down to the beach to collect the firearms and to bury the dead savages. Using Friday as an interpreter, Crusoe asked the father if the savage who escaped might bring back any more with them. The father's opinion was that they were so thunderstruck at the manner of death that they would assume that it was because of a supernatural power and that they would dare not return.

Time destroying caution, Crusoe once again began to make plans to leave the island. Speaking to the Spaniard through Friday, Crusoe found that there were sixteen more compatriots living on the mainland who would be grateful for escape. Crusoe asked him if the sixteen might be trusted in an escape attempt, adding that he would rather be eaten by the savages than to fall into the hands of the merciless priests of the Inquisition. The Spaniard said that he would make them swear on the Holy Sacraments to be loyal and that he himself would fight unto his death for Crusoe.

The Spaniard proposed that they postpone the trip for six months for good reasons. First, their stock of corn and rice was sufficient for only four, and their stock of supplies should be built up so that when they returned with the others there would be no lack of food. Consequently, the four began planting more seeds and harvesting the crops. They also cut down trees, made many planks with much effort, and, in addition, caught more goats to breed, and cured a large quantity of grapes so that they would have a good supply of raisins. Next, they made wicker baskets in order to hold the harvests. Then, everything being ready, Crusoe sent the Spaniard and Friday's father away to bring back the other white men. They left in October, agreeing to give a signal on their return.

After waiting eight days, Crusoe was awakened by Friday calling, "Master, Master, they are come!" Uncharacteristically, Crusoe ran out without his gun, but presently observed that the boat that was coming was not the boat that they had sent out. Suddenly apprehensive, Crusoe went to a hilltop to see more clearly. He saw what appeared to be an English ship anchored about two and one half leagues away, and the boat coming in appeared to be an English boat. Crusoe was torn with ambivalent feelings. He felt joy at seeing a ship from his homeland, but a hunch warned him to be on guard. What business would an English ship have in this part of the world?

As the boat neared the shore, Crusoe counted eleven men disembarking, three of them bound. Friday thought that the Englishmen were going to eat the others. Crusoe assured Friday that the bound men might be murdered but that they would not be eaten. Crusoe was at a loss to understand the situation and hoped that the Spaniard and Friday's father were near in case of trouble.

Though the three prisoners seemed to despair, Crusoe felt that Providence had brought them here to insure their deliverance because of Crusoe. Eventually, some of the men began drinking brandy and fell asleep. Thus, Crusoe stayed hidden and alert, ready to seize any opportunity to free the prisoners. At two o'clock in the heat of the day, all the men went into the woods to sleep, leaving the three bound men in the sun. Crusoe and Friday approached them and discovered their predicament. The men were astounded at Crusoe's appearance and were so appreciative that they could hardly believe their eyes and ears. Crusoe learned that there had been a mutiny aboard the ship and that the bound men were the captain, the first mate, and a passenger. Crusoe offered to either kill the mutineers or to take them captive. The men decided to take them captive. Accordingly, they all crept into the woods to make plans for the capture.

Crusoe demanded total allegiance to him if he was to help them, and, moreover, free passage to England on their ship. The men agreed readily, whereupon Crusoe armed them. As the seamen began to awaken, Crusoe and his party advanced on them. One man, who cried out to alert the rest, was shot by the other two men. The captain shouted that it was too late to fight and that all should submit to him, return their allegiance to him, and he would spare their lives.

Friday and the first mate went to secure the boat. The captain and Crusoe exchanged stories, learning about each other's circumstances. Later, Crusoe took the three to his fortification and fed them. The captain admitted that he was worried about the twenty-six men that were still aboard the ship, and feared that they would defy them. Crusoe, therefore, schemed to trick them into coming to the island. As they were scheming, there were shots from the ship, signaling for the men to return to the ship. When this failed, another boat with ten men in it was launched and headed for the shore. When they arrived, they were apparently surprised to discover that the first boat had been stripped and that there was a hole in the bottom of it. Apparently thinking that their companions were lost, they started to return to the ship, changed their minds, came back to the shore, and left three men to guard the boat; the other seven began a search for their companions.

After much searching, the seven men gave up and decided to give up their companions as lost and to return to the ship and continue on their intended voyage. In order to prevent them, Crusoe had Friday and the first mate go to a nearby knoll to yell until the crew returned. Friday then left them to go farther into the woods, and Crusoe and the captain surprised the men guarding the boat and after a small scuffle, persuaded them to yield.

Friday and the captain's mate returned and all waited for the rest of the crew to find their way out of the woods and back to the shore. They were shocked to find the boat aground, the tide out, and their companions gone. They began to cry out that the island was enchanted. Taking advantage of the crew's confusion, they waited for them to separate from each other, and then the captain and Friday began to fire at them. Two were killed, and the captain demanded that the rest submit to him, maintaining that he had fifty men with him. Consequently, all the men lay down their arms and professed allegiance to the captain in order not to be hanged. The captain told them that the island was inhabited and run by an Englishman, Robinson Crusoe. Crusoe advised them to be prepared to be sent to England to be dealt with, all except one, named Will Atkins, who was to be hanged the next day because he was the ringleader.

For safety, Crusoe divided the prisoners into small groups and made sure that three particularly fierce prisoners were in the strongest fortifications. As for the rest, the captain talked to them all in order to determine which ones could be trusted, and he told them that he would ask for a pardon if they would swear their utmost loyalty. All humbly promised to be faithful to the captain.

Altogether, Crusoe was able to believe that twelve men were loyal and trustworthy, and he asked the captain if he were willing to take this group and board the ship. Crusoe tells us that he had to stay behind and guard the other prisoners and watch over his "kingdom."

The captain and his men contrived to fool the few men left on the ship by having a man named Robinson yell to them about their difficulties in finding the first crew. Consequently, the men on the ship thought that they were welcoming back their comrades and, consequently, were taken by the captain and his men. Subduing all on deck, they found the new mutinous captain and fired upon him and his accomplices, wounding all of them. Thus the ship was restored to her rightful captain. Signaling to Crusoe on the island, they returned with everything well in hand.

Crusoe, seeing the ship at his command, nearly fainted with the reality of his impending escape. Crusoe remembered to thank God for his deliverance. In appreciation for all that Crusoe had done, the captain of the ship showered many gifts on Crusoe. Then the two men discussed what was to be done with the prisoners. It was decided that Crusoe would grant them a pardon, but leave them to shift for themselves on the island. Crusoe ordered the rebellious captain to be hanged on the yardarm as an example to the rest of the men. Crusoe gave the prisoners much useful information and also told them about the sixteen Spaniards who were to be expected.

Crusoe and the rest of the crew prepared to leave the next day. Two of the five men left on the island swam to the ship's side, begging to be taken on board, and complained about the other three. After being soundly whipped, they were allowed to go along. Crusoe left the island on the nineteenth of December of 1686 and arrived in England on the eleventh of June of 1687, having been gone for thirty-five years.

Crusoe found the widow, to whom he had left most of his money, still alive, but nearly all of his family were dead. Crusoe resolved to go to Lisbon to find out about his plantation in Brazil; Friday, still his faithful servant, accompanied him.

Analysis

After holding us in suspense for several chapters, Defoe at last unfolds the narrative of Crusoe's escape from his long imprisonment from the island. Again, he fills these chapters with such details as how much food Crusoe should take on the boat, the planting of seeds, the harvesting, the cutting down of trees, the goats bred for meat, and the drying of the raisins.

And here again, Defoe tempts us to believe that escape is easy, if one carefully prepares for it. Yet, in the sequence in which the eleven men disembark from their boat, we fear for Friday's life. The boat appears to be English, and so would not be hostile to an Englishman, even bearded and clothed in skins, as Crusoe is. Yet Friday is a sensitive man — envisioned both by Defoe and by Crusoe. He is no longer a savage; by Defoe's careful plotting and his strong sense of humanity, Friday has become an acute, alert, and loyal friend to Crusoe.

Unfortunately, the escape and the fighting to gain the English boat is accomplished all too quickly, almost in comic-strip sequence. After Defoe has spent so much time telling us about Crusoe's ordeals of surviving on the island, one wonders why he decided to climax the escape so easily. This section is certainly readable, and we are never tempted to put the book down, but the escape is accomplished in a few pages, after much anticipation, instead of a more descriptive, richer finale.

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