Summary and Analysis
When Crusoe woke up, he found the weather clear and the storm over. The ship had been carried by the tide almost to the shore. He began to wish to board the ship so that he could save some of the things that he could later use. Later, at the tide's ebb, he found that he could come to within a quarter of a mile of the ship and then he realized that if they had all stayed on board that they would all have been saved. This distressed him so much that he began to cry, but he quickly quit and began to make plans to get to the ship.
After surmounting many difficulties in getting to the ship, he pulled himself up by means of a hanging rope. He searched for all the unspoiled provisions. He found many things, including biscuits and rum, which he wanted to take ashore and he began searching for a boat in order to transport them to shore. He used spare yards and several spars of wood to construct a raft. When the raft was strong enough to load, he lowered the cheeses, corn, the seaman's chest and other provisions onto the raft. He then searched and found ammunition and guns for his use, and then made use of the rising tide to navigate back to the shore with his cache.
The tide took him to a small cove and from here he searched for a safe place to stay, protected from wild beasts and other dangers. Climbing to the top of a hill, he discovered that he was on an island which he believed to be uninhabited. He killed a strange fowl only to discover that it was inedible. He spent the rest of the day bringing his cargo to shore and barricading himself for safety.
Since he was unsure whether or not the ship would last another day or whether it would be blown apart by the winds and waves, he made another trip to the ship in order to bring back more tools and arms. On his return, he confronted the first of the undomesticated cats, which later became a nuisance to him.
Using part of the sail he procured from the ship, he made a tent in which to spend the night. He slept well and, the next day, he made another trip to the ship. This time he brought back some bread, sugar, rum, and flour. He continued to visit the ship every day at low tide in order to get more useful things from it. After thirteen days on shore and twelve trips to the ship, he brought back "about 36 pounds value in money, some European doins, some Brazil, some pieces of eight, some gold and silver." He was amused at the sight of the money because he realized that of all the things he brought off the ship, this money would have the least value for him in his present condition.
A storm blew up and blew hard the entire night, and when morning came, the ship was nowhere to be seen, but he was content that he had brought everything back that he could use before the ship disappeared.
Crusoe's first concern was for his own protection and safety against unknown dangers. Accordingly, he decided upon both a cave and a tent to ward off whatever type of dangers that might appear. Not being satisfied with his present location, he decided to investigate other parts of the island to see if he could find a more suitable location to build his fortress. He found a flat place on the side of a hill and determined to pitch his tent there. Using a cable from the ship and his imagination, he made a type of fortification around the tent to ward off dangers. For further safety, he insured that the only means of entrance was by means of a ladder over the top of the tent.
He carried all of his provisions into the tent and covered them with a tarp to protect them from the elements. He went to work digging a cave, but a storm channeled all of his energy into securing the gunpowder so that it would not become wet and, therefore, useless. During this time, he went at least once a day to discover what he could kill for food. On one trip, he discovered goats on the island. He killed a she-goat and her kid followed him back to his tent. He tried to tame the kid, but it wouldn't eat, so he was forced to kill it and eat it.
He realized that he should find a way to make a fire and to find proper fuel to burn. However, he began to muse on his condition; he wondered if his predicament was "the determination of Heaven, that in this desolate place and in this desolate manner, I should end my life." At this moment, he began to question the justice of Providence that would deliver such severe punishment on a person who had never done a great disobedience. Reproving himself for this bitterness, he began to reason with himself. Surely, he had met a better fate than the other ten in the boat who were undoubtedly dead. Counting his blessings, he realized that he had everything needed for his subsistence, particularly his gun and his ammunition. Realizing this, he decided to keep an account of his trials and tribulations. With this thought in mind, he began a journal of his activities, beginning with the day he landed on the shore.
One of the main advantages of keeping a journal daily was the fact that it would force him to keep account of the time of the year. He recorded the circumstances to which he was reduced, and in the form of a ledger, he listed the "evil" that had befallen him, in contrast to the "good" that was also his lot. After reviewing the pros and cons of his condition and, in spite of the horror of his condition, he realized that, nevertheless, God was on his side and that he had much to be thankful for.
After taking stock of all his possessions, he realized that he did not have enough room to move about it. He then began to build a series of tunnels in the cave which would be a type of safe storehouse for all of his possessions. This accomplished, and desiring a few physical comforts for himself, he made a table and a chair, and realized that "by labour, application, and contrivance, I found at last that I wanted nothing but I could have made it, especially if I had had tools." Thus, he made shelves to store things on and other useful items.
After his labors were completed, he stepped back to observe his domain and it "was great pleasure to me to see all my goods in such order, and especially to find my stock of all necessaries so great." Crusoe then recorded in his journal details about his arrival on the shore and recounted how he came ashore, found himself abandoned, and wept for his plight.
Beginning his journal, Crusoe records:
September 30, 1659: he relived the terror of the shipwreck and his heavy fears.
October 1: Crusoe regretted and bemoaned the fate of his shipmates and determined to board the ship to get whatever provisions he could.
October 1-24: These days were occupied by the many trips Crusoe made to the ship.
October 20: This was the day that the raft overturned, and he had to spend the entire day recovering the goods from the sea.
October 24: This being the rainy season, he spent this day covering his goods to protect them from the rain.
October 26: He found a proper location to build his home and began in the labors of this task.
October 26-30: These days were spent in transferring all of his goods to his new home and fortification.
October 31: He hunted, killed a she-goat, and killed the kid that followed him home.
November 1: He set up his tent and spent his first night in it.
November 2: He arranged his chests and made a second fortification just within the place he had marked out for his first fortification.
November 3: He killed two edible birds and made a table.
November 4: He followed a time schedule every morning, walking out with his gun for several hours, working until 11:00 A.M., eating lunch, napping from 12:00 until 2:00 P.M., and working until evening.
November 5: He killed a cat and kept the skin.
November 6: He took a morning walk and finished his table.
November 7-12: This time was devoted to making a chair.
November 13: The rain alerted him to the fact that he should parcel out his gunpowder so that if some were destroyed, all would not be lost.
November 14-16: These days were spent making little boxes to hold a pound or two pounds of powder.
November 17: He began to dig behind his tent, into the rocks, but he lacked three important tools, and so he desisted from his work and made two of the tools.
November 18: He searched for a tree known as an iron tree in Brazil and shaped a shovel out of it. Unable to make a wheelbarrow, he made a conveyance similar to a hod. All this required four days.
November 23: He spent the next eighteen days widening and deepening his cave.
December 10: Thinking his labors on the cave finished, a great quantity of earth caved in. After this disaster, he worked diligently to get the ceiling propped up.
December 11: Using boards, he spent a week securing the roof; the posts served as partitions in his house.
December 17: He spent this day until the 20th ordering his house by means of shelves and nails on the posts.
December 20: He put his house in order and also made another table.
December 24: "Much rain all night and all day: no stirring out."
December 25: "Rain all day."
December 26: "No rain and the earth much cooler."
December 27: Crusoe went goat hunting, killed one, lamed another and planned to tame it and breed it.
December 28-30: Due to the heat, he spent much time indoors ordering his house.
January 1: It was still very hot and by evening, traveling through the valley, he discovered lots more goats and decided to bring his dog to hunt them down.
January 2: He brought his dog to hunt the goats, but the goats stood their ground and the dog had to retreat.
January 3: He began his fence, but the rains hindering him for long stretches of time, it took from the third of January to the fourteenth of April to perfect. He was pleased that he had built his fence and fortification in such a way that an outsider coming upon the place would not recognize it as something manmade.
As time passed, Crusoe discovered more different types of wild birds and wild game. And he also learned to make things, such as a barrel that previously he thought that it would be impossible to make. Since he had to go to bed as soon as it became dark, he decided to try to make some kind of candle or light. He put some goat's tallow into a kind of dish and made himself a type of lamp.
During his rummages, he found a small bag of corn but because of rats, nothing was left except husks and dust. Needing the bag for something else, he shook the dust out of the bag near a rock close to his fortification. Much to his astonishment, in time, a few green stalks shot out of the ground and later ten to twelve ears burst out. Ruminating on this miracle, he began to believe that God had caused this grain to grow. He began to cry over God's generosity, when, much to his amazement, he spied stalks of rice. Recalling that he had shaken out some husks months before, his religious gratitude began to abate. He saved the ears of corn with the resolve to sow them again, but it was not until the fourth year that he could allow himself to eat any of this, and even then he had to eat sparingly. He also saved the rice for the same purpose.
Continuing with his journal, Crusoe writes:
April 16: He finished making the ladder which he used to climb into his tent and which he pulled in after him, but he was taken by surprise and was terribly frightened by an earthquake, which caused part of his roof to tumble and several of the posts to crack. The ground shook three times and filled him with such horror that he sat on the ground distressed and distraught, thinking "Lord have mercy upon me." After the earthquake, the sky turned cloudy and the wind rose so that in no time at all "it blew a most dreadful hurricane." Dejected, he ventured back into his tent, but the onslaught of the rain forced him back into his cave. Because of the dangers involved, he resolved to move his tent, which was under a hanging rock and he spent the next two days deciding how and where to move.
April 22: Beginning on this day, when he realized that his tools were too dull to perform the tasks that needed to be performed, he spent an entire week constructing a grindstone for the sole purpose of sharpening his tools.
April 28-29: He spent two days sharpening his tools.
April 30: His bread supply being low, he rationed himself to one biscuit a day.
May 1: Looking out to sea, he saw pieces of the ship which had been blown to shore by the hurricane. But such things as casks of gunpowder were useless since they were completely wet. But, because of the earthquake, the ship was heaved farther upon the land and when the tide was out, he could walk right up to the ship. Although the inside of the ship was full of sand, he resolved to pull off everything that might be useful to him some time or another.
May 3: Using his saw, he cut through a piece of the beam and cleared away the sand, but was forced to stop by the incoming tide.
May 4: Crusoe went fishing, but caught nothing but a dolphin. He dried it in the sun and ate it.
May 5: He cut more beams from the ship and brought them ashore.
May 6: He brought several pieces of ironwork from the ship and came home very discouraged.
May 7: The beams being cut, the ship fell in on itself and was almost full of water and sand.
May 8: With an iron crowbar, he brought back two planks.
May 9: Crusoe went to work with the crowbar again, but everything was too heavy to move.
May 10-14: Crusoe went every day to the ship and brought back a great deal of timber and iron.
May 15: He tried to cut off a piece of lead by means of two hatchets, but as the lead lay in a foot and half of water, his efforts were futile.
May 16: He stayed so long in the woods getting pigeons that the tide prevented him from going to the ship that day.
May 17: A piece of the head of the ship was blown nearly two miles off, but it was too heavy for him to bring to his place.
May 24: Every day, for about three weeks, he worked on the ship and brought back casks and seamen's chests, but the salt water and sand had spoiled their contents. He continued this work until the fifteenth of June.
June 16: He found a turtle.
June 17: He ate the turtle and her eggs.
June 18: Due to the rain, Crusoe found himself to be cold, which was highly unusual for this climate at this time of the year.
June 19: He was very ill and shivering.
June 20: Violent pains and fever.
June 21: He was very ill, frightened and apprehensive; he prayed to God, but was too sick to know what he said.
June 22: ". . . under dreadful apprehensions of sickness."
June 23: "Cold and shivering."
June 24: "Much better."
June 25: He recorded cold fits, sweats, and fainting spells.
June 26: Recovering somewhat from his illness, he needed food and took his gun and killed a goat, which he ate, and gained some strength.
June 27: The ague came upon him again so violently that he became delirious and cried out, "Lord look upon me! Lord pity me! Lord have mercy upon me!" After the fit, he fell immediately to sleep and awakened later, feeling much better. Falling asleep for the second time, he had strange and terrible dreams. After much horror, he awakened and realized that the last eight years of wickedness "without desire of good or consciousness of evil" had gotten the best of him. He then began to dwell upon his many sins and realized that he acted "like a mere brute from the principles of nature." What gratitude he had felt upon the realization that he was alive after the shipwreck ended in merely being glad that he was alive. His illness caused him to re-evaluate his thankfulness to God and to reappraise his duty to God. After much soul searching, he cried, "Lord be my help, for I am in great distress."
June 28: After having eaten and refreshed himself, Crusoe went out with his gun but was so weak that he soon sat down and began to think. Through a series of theological deductions, he decided that God had decided that all of this was to befall him. He then wondered why God had done this to him. Sad and distressed, he went back over his wall to partake of some tobacco for comfort and, in the chest where the tobacco was, he found a cure both for soul and body." It was a Bible.
Experimenting first with the tobacco, he spent several hours trying to make use of it. Finally, he began to read, and the book opened significantly to "call on me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver, and thou shalt glorify me." These words made a great impression upon him, and he prayed before retiring.
Crusoe then tells us that the "30th was my well day." He killed more fowl and ate more turtle eggs. But, taking more tobacco and rum, he felt worse on the first of July.
July 2: He again partook of his medicine" and doubled the quantity which he drank.
July 3: He speculated that God delivered him from his sickness, but that he had not glorified Him. Immediately he prayed.
July 4: He began a serious reading of the Bible, beginning with the New Testament. Reflecting on his wickedness, he began earnestly to beg for repentance and came upon more significant scriptures. He began to have hope that God would hear him. So, weighted down with guilt, he came to the realization "they will find deliverance from sin a much greater blessing than deliverance from affliction."
Having regained a measure of peace of mind, he spent from the fourth of July until the fourteenth of July exploring his environment. Having been on the island ten months, he desired a greater knowledge of the physical aspects of the island. It was on the fifteenth of July that he went up to the creek where he first brought his raft on shore and, on the bank of that creek, he found tobacco growing wild. He found several sugar canes also growing wild.
On the sixteenth, he went farther abroad and found several fruits, melons and grapes, and from the grapes, he decided to make some raisins. Spending the first night in a tree, he traveled nearly four miles the next day. He came upon a "delicious vale" and began to believe that he was king and lord of this island, with the right of possession. He also found cocoa trees, orange, lemon, and other citron trees. After spending three days in this pursuit, he went home with samples of all the fruits that he had seen. On the nineteenth, he brought two small bags with him to bring home more. To his surprise, all that he had left in heaps were trodden upon or devoured.
He considered moving his home to that part of the island where it was so pleasant and so fruitful. He spent much of July in this area and built a bower surrounded with a fence, thus becoming the owner of a type of country home. Then great rains came on, which forced him to stay in his seacoast house.
On the third of August, he had excellent raisins, which he kept for winter food. But from the fourteenth of August until the middle of October, it rained nearly every day, sometimes forcing him into his cave for days at a time.
It was at this time that he discovered that his "family" was increasing; his cat suddenly appeared with three kittens, confusing, really, because as far as Crusoe knew, both of his cats were females. From these three cats, he later became so infested with cats that he had to kill them as pests. During the rains, he killed another goat and another turtle and, along with these turtle eggs, the goat meat and the raisins, he had the finest "feast" that he had yet eaten on the island.
On September 30, Crusoe noted that it had been one year since his unhappy landing. He indulged in religious observances and kept a fast, and set apart every seventh day for a sabbath. As his ink was beginning to fail, he resolved to write only of the more remarkable events of his life.
The qualities which most readers admire in Robinson Crusoe are illustrated in these chapters. Here, we see a man pitted against the forces of nature and forced to use his ingenuity in order to survive. The instinct for survival is, according to some psychologists, one of the strongest of all instincts, and Robinson Crusoe is now reduced to the most elemental existence. Thus the appeal of these chapters lies in the simple narration of how he was able to survive and in his telling of the things that he was able to save from the ship.
Crusoe's materialism is further emphasized as he discovers some money which is of absolutely no value to him, and he recognizes this. However, he is unable to overlook the money and ends up taking it with him. Even when he contrasts the good and evil of his situation, he approaches this as a business man, listing each one as one would enter into a ledger his credits or debits. He is comforted by the fact that his credits are greater than his debits; after all, all of his comrades died in the shipwreck.
Chapter 8 is a long and difficult chapter in which Crusoe goes back in time and reiterates all the things that have happened to him since he landed on the island. There are a few things narrated, but there is nothing highly significant in terms of the entire novel. The main purpose of the journal was to keep track of time, but by the end of the chapter he is running out of ink, therefore rendering this purpose to be of little use.