Robinson Crusoe: Novel Summary: 9. "I was now, in the Months of November and December."

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9. "I was now, in the Months of November and December."

 

"I was now, in the Months of November and December." through ".at last find some Means of Escape" (pp. 84-91)
Crusoe cultivates his crops of barley and rice, although he is somewhat stymied by having planted at inopportune times, as well as by the snacking habits of the island's birds and beasts! Nevertheless, the gathering of the wheat is a great encouragement to Crusoe: "I forsaw that in time, it wou'd please God to supply me with Bread." Much of the rest of this section details Crusoe's ultimately successful efforts to bake bread-when he is not diverting himself by teaching his parrot to speak! The castaway also learns how to sculpt and fire clay vessels sturdier than his wicker baskets. As Crusoe approaches the beginning of his fourth year of exile, he continues to harbor wishes for a way to get off the island to the land he spied over the water.
Analysis
The emphasis early in this section upon Crusoe's making of bread is yet a further recollection of the biblical Adam who, as punishment for sin, was condemned thus by God: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground." (Gen. 3:19, KJV). Thus, even though Crusoe has developed greater religious affection for God, this perhaps subconscious evocation of humanity (represented by Adam) actually estranged from God keeps alive Defoe's subtle manipulation of the question of how far Crusoe's own reports about his faith can be trusted.
Another notable theme explicitly introduced in this section is the "State of Nature" in which Crusoe says he has arrived. The "state of nature" was a common theme of 17th and 18th-century philosophy. Readers will no doubt think of Thomas Hobbes' famous pithy summation of humanity's natural state as "nasty, brutish, and short." Jean-Jacques Rousseau, however, posited a different view: that humanity, before the advent of civilization and law, was composed of "noble savages." This phrase is actually somewhat misleading of Rousseau's actual views, but has proven widely influential: as --- states, the "noble savage" is: "Someone who belongs to an 'uncivilized' group or tribe and is considered to be, consequently, more worthy than people who live within civilization" (The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition, E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Joseph F. Kett, James Trefil, eds.; � 2002 by Houghton Mifflin). Readers will want to consider how Defoe's Robinson Crusoe engages the philosophical views of its time in conversation about "noble savages" and the "state of nature." For all the ways in which civilization has been stripped from him, Crusoe, after all, manages to either reconstruct or approximate a good many of them on the island, as we have seen. And how will the introduction of Friday, still to come in the narrative, challenge Crusoe's understanding of civilization, not to mention our own?

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