Robinson Crusoe By Daniel Defoe Summary and Analysis Chapters 2-3

Summary

Crusoe, having some money in his pockets, decided to travel to London by land. His decision was based partly on the fact that he was ashamed to go home and face his parents and that his neighbors might laugh at him. In London, he became more and more reluctant to go home and soon put all notion of returning out of his mind.

In London, it was his lot to fall in with some good company. One person he met was the master of a ship which was about to go to the Guinea coast of Africa for trading. The master took a fancy to young Crusoe and told him that he could come along at no expense. Thus, Crusoe entered "into a strict friendship with this captain, who was an honest and plain dealing man." On this first voyage, Crusoe carried forty pounds with him, which was invested in toys and trifles for trading. This was one of the most successful voyages that he ever had since he was able to trade his trifles for five pounds, nine ounces of gold dust, which yielded three hundred pounds.

After they returned to London, his friend, the captain, fell ill and died. Crusoe decided to go on his own again to the Guinea coast and took the other hundred pounds with him, leaving two hundred pounds with the captain's widow for safe keeping. This trip, however, was plagued with misfortune from the first. As the ship approached the Canary Islands, a Turkish Rover out of Sallee approached them in order to pirate them. They tried to give fight, but their ship had much less fighting equipment and not nearly as many men. The result was that the ship was captured and Crusoe was taken prisoner and carried to the port of Sallee.

Crusoe was not used as badly as were the other members of the crew. He was kept by the master of the ship and was made the master's personal slave. Thus, in a short time, Crusoe changed from a merchant to a "miserable slave." While his new master kept him on the shore to tend to his house when he went sailing, Crusoe constantly thought of his liberty, and, after about two years, he began to design possible means of escape.

When the master would go fishing, he would always take Crusoe and "a young Maresco" with him to row. Crusoe also proved to be an excellent fisherman and was often instructed to catch a mess of fish for his master. Once when they were out fishing, they were caught in a fog and lost their way. Using this as an example, the master had the skiff provided with food and water and also some firearms.

One day, the master was planning on having some of his friends over for a dinner, and he ordered Crusoe to go out and catch some fish for dinner and to bring the fish home as soon as he had caught them. This opportunity provided Crusoe with a way to escape.

As soon as Crusoe knew that he was to have a boat at his command, he began to make preparations to escape. By cunning methods, he convinced the Moor who supervised him to provide the boat with all the necessary provisions for an escape. After pretending not to catch any fish, he told the Moor that they must go farther out to sea. Once there, Crusoe took the Moor by surprise and threw him overboard. He then made the servant Xury swear to be loyal to him and the two of them sailed for five days.

Finally, they were in need of fresh water, and they came into a creek, but there were such terrible animals noises on land that both men stayed on the ship during the night.

When it was time to go for water, Xury volunteered to go so that if wild men came, they would eat Xury and thus Crusoe could escape. Soon, however, Xury returned carrying fresh water and a newly killed animal that resembled a large hare, which they ate with gusto. To the best of his calculations, Crusoe figured that they were somewhere along Morocco's coast in a country known to be uninhabited. During the day, they did see a large beast, which turned out to be a huge lion. Crusoe shot at it and hit it in the leg the first time and the second shot hit the animal in the head. Xury then went to it and finished killing it. They spent the day skinning the animal and Crusoe used the skin "to lie upon."

They sailed on for ten or twelve days, hoping to meet a ship from a civilized country. After about another ten days, they began to notice that the shore was sometimes inhabited, and at other times, completely naked natives were seen waving at them. By signs, they were able to communicate that they had no water and no meat. The natives brought them some dried meat and some corn, which they left on the shore so that Crusoe could come and get it.

While they were lying on the shore, there "came two mighty creatures, one pursuing the other." The natives were terribly frightened and even more frightened and awed when Crusoe took out his gun and killed one of them. The noise of the gun made some of the natives fall down in fear. The other creature was so frightened that it ran away. Being now furnished with dried meat, corn, and water, they sailed away.

In about eleven days, Crusoe spotted land which he assumed to be the Cape Verde Islands. In a short time, Xury spotted a ship with a sail and was frightened, thinking that the old master was after both of them. Crusoe recognized it as a Portuguese ship and sent up a distress signal and also fired a gun. The ship stopped, and in about three hours, Crusoe reached the ship.

The captain, a friendly man, took them in after hearing that Crusoe had been a captive slave. Crusoe offered the captain all that he had, but the captain refused, saying that then Crusoe would be left penniless when they landed in Brazil, their destination. Furthermore, the captain offered him eighty pieces of eight for the boat and sixty more for the sale of Xury. At first, Crusoe was loath to sell "the poor boy's liberty who had assisted me so faithfully in procuring my own." However, when Crusoe told Xury the reason for selling him, Crusoe tells us that Xury was willing to be sold.

Analysis

These chapters continue to fulfill Crusoe's father's prediction that his son will meet with varied misfortunes. Among the misfortunes is his capture by Moors and his subsequent enslavement.

Furthermore, his enslavement is correlated to his pride in that he was too ashamed to admit failure and his pride drove him onward to further adventures which result in his capture.

Crusoe's materialism and his acquisitiveness is hinted at in Chapter 2 as he is able to turn forty pounds into a three hundred pound profit. This aspect of Crusoe's character will be greatly emphasized later when he is marooned on the island. There he will collect every possible type of goods, some of which will be of no use to him. Crusoe's materialism and "capitalism" has been the subject of much adverse criticism; it has even been the subject of a critique by Karl Marx.

Chapter 3 describes his escape from his enslavement and it is here that we see the first glimpse of

Crusoe's ingenuity, a quality which will be necessary for his survival on the island. This chapter also foreshadows Crusoe's relationship with Friday later on, as it emphasizes his ability to manipulate people and to seemingly win their loyalty as he is able to completely subject Xury to his own will. Many modern critics object to the manner in which Crusoe patronizes people who are inferior to him or who are obligated to him. Others simply refer to Crusoe as an extreme opportunist.

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