Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Number of pages: 368
The famous story of Robinson Crusoe can be
divided into three parts: Robinsonís youth and the time up to
his shipwreck; his twenty-eight years on an uninhabited
island; his lie and adventures after being rescued from the
island. Published in 1719, Defoe places his story in the 17th
century in England, north Africa, Brazil, an island off the
coast of Venezuela and back to Europe.
The first part of the novel relates that,
against the advice of his father, Robinson wishes to pursue
his livelihood by going to sea. He does so and after a false
start has some success but a third voyage ends in slavery. He
eventually escapes and is helped to Brazil where he becomes a
successful plantation owner. He embarks on a slave gathering
expedition to West Africa but is shipwrecked off the coast of
Venezuela in a terrible storm.
The bulk of the novel attends to Robinsonís
life on the island óhow he accomplishes his survival and even
establishes his "kingdom"; how he moves from a frantic state
of discontent to one of resignation and contentment; how he
meets Friday and, finally, how he leaves the island.
Though anticlimactic, the third part of the
novel traces Robinsonís securing of wealth through the honesty
and loyalty of friends, his return to England, travels through
the continent and a last trip to his island to see how those
he left there fared.
- For Junior High School students this is an appropriate
introduction to adult literature. While the details of
surviving on an uninhabited island would appeal to any
youngster, an attentive reading of this novel might bring a
young reader into contact with topics like religion,
economics, politics on a more mature level.
- With an obvious understanding of human nature on a
natural level, Defoe fabricates a story which is catholic
with a small "c"; many opportunities are presented for
discussions about what constitutes "literature."
- Robinson is a fine example of industry, perseverance,
common sense, hopefulness and gratitude. He spends every
anniversary of his shipwreck in prayer and fasting.
- While Robinson decides against settling in Brazil
because he would have to become Catholic, the Spanish and
Portuguese are portrayed very favorably.
- Since the novel spans the 17th century and
Defoe was aware of the political, religious and cultural
currents of his day, there are ample opportunities to
integrate the subjects of religion, history, geography,
religion óeven math and science.
- The students will see for themselves how countless and
minute details make the story seem true and thus become
aware of one of the methods of false propaganda.
- The transformation of Robinsonís attitude from
bitterness at his situation on the island to one of peaceful
resignation stems from his insight that God allowed this
misfortune to protect him from further sin.
- Robinson is a Protestant and chooses to remain a
Protestant; his theology is Protestant.
- Protestant versions of history in regard to the harsh
treatment of the Indians and the Inquisition are put
This book could be used for many years and
still engage the interest of the teacher. The students will
enjoy a story, which has stood the test of time and we can all
be reminded that when the need arises, God will give us the
courage, stamina and ingenuity demanded.
"Robinson is still an experimenting boy.
No one can reach to manís estate without his own shipwreck.
On the outer edge of self óreliance is the first discovery
of fear that proves how everything depends on God and fellow
How self-reliant Robinson turns out to be
is an obvious marvel of the book giving us a hope that we
could be like that ómechanical, inventive, all alone against
the naked world of things. Then sickness comes and
helplessness ónot quite love (the giving up of self) but
loveís most famous footprint." (Dr. John Senior)