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Robinson Crusoe: Novel Summary: 7. Crusoe's Journal, June 28 through September 30

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7. Crusoe's Journal, June 28 through September 30

Crusoe's Journal, June 28 through September 30 (pp. 67-76)

Crusoe begins considering such philosophical, existential questions as "What is this Earth and Sea. and what am I.?" He decides that "if God has made all these Things, He guides and governs them all"; therefore, "God had appointed all this to befal me." Crusoe's conscience convicts him of his sin; the castaway decides that his past errors are the reason God is now punishing him. Troubled, Crusoe begins reading a Bible from one of the chests he salvaged from the shipwreck. The first passage he ponders is Psalm 50: "Call on me in the Day of Trouble, and I will deliver, and thou shalt glorify me." Crusoe states that he eventually took these words as God's promise to him of rescue. He begins to consider, however, that in a sense he has already been delivered: he is, after all, the only survivor of the shipwreck. He has not, however, glorified God. He decides this must be the reason he has not yet been saved from the island. As he continues to study the Bible seriously, he grows more convinced of the errors of his past life and of a hope that God will now hear him. He begins to glorify God.

In mid-July, ten months into his exile, Crusoe resolves to make a further exploration of the island. He begins bringing heaps of grapes back to a bower he builds in a fruitful and pleasant valley. On one occasion, he is surprised to discover that, while he was away, the grapes have been disturbed. "By this I concluded, there were some wild Creatures therabouts." On the whole, however, Crusoe is pleased with his surroundings: "I fancy'd now I had my Country-House, and my Sea-Coast-House." At length, the one-year anniversary of his shipwreck arrives. Crusoe marks the day with a solemn religious fast. Shortly thereafter, he runs out of ink, and is forced to stop his journal.


Most of this section is overtly concerned with the possible theological implications of Crusoe's experience. As readers may have been led to expect by the book's preface, Crusoe arrives at a fairly conventional religious interpretation of his ordeal: it is punishment visited upon him by God for his past sins and ingratitude, and his only recourse now lies in worshiping God and trusting in God for deliverance. It is a moralistic reading of the situation that no doubt sat well with most of Defoe's original audience. Notably, however, Crusoe's new-found religious fervor and trust in God does not lead to passivity. Indeed, the castaway realizes that he still has much to learn about how to survive. Although he is surrounded by native growth, for instance, he acknowledges that he did not observe enough back in Brazil what plants and fruit would prove beneficial to him and which would not. On the other hand, he shows that he continues to learn from his experiences when he eats sparingly of the grapes he discovers, remembering how eating grapes in Barbary killed several of his fellow English slaves. Thus, although this section in one sense establishes a view of fixed destiny-God's determination to punish Crusoe-in another sense it reminds readers that destiny is within our controls-Crusoe amends his life so that he might be delivered, and he continues to grow in self-reliance and capability to ensure his own survival.


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