Robinson Crusoe: Novel Summary: 13. "I was something impatient."
13. "I was something impatient."
"I was something impatient." through ".but without a Scabbard" (pp. 108-121)
Garbed in clothing made from animal skins but still attempting to dress with dignity, Crusoe journeys back to the boat he made. Observing the ebbing of the tide, he becomes afraid of returning to the water, and decides instead to build a second canoe.
One day, Crusoe makes a startling discovery: "the Print of Man's naked Foot on the shore." Crusoe knows the footprint is not his, and he is sorely confused and, indeed, terrified as he tries to understand how the footprint has come to be there. He even wonders if Satan himself is the culprit; eventually, however, he imagines all manner of "savages"-and what they might do to him-who could be responsible. After many years, apparently, of doubt and confusion, however, Crusoe is able to control his fear by the use of reason-"I concluded, That this Island, which was so exceeding pleasant, fruitful, and no further from the main Land than as I had seen, was not so entirely abandon'd as I might imagine"-as well as by an increase in his spiritual devotion. At the same time, Crusoe fortifies his cave-dwelling to create a double wall: "I took all the Measures humane Prudence could suggest for my own Preservation." About two years later, Crusoe concludes that "savages" from the main land do indeed cross over to the island on a frequent basis, cannibalizing their victims on the island's shores. Crusoe, seeing the evidence of cannibalism on the beach, decides the fact that he was shipwrecked on the island's opposite shore is yet one further example of Providence.
Crusoe's appearance, which he describes at the outset of this section, has always fascinated the artists who illustrate Defoe's text. In fact, the only illustration of the 1719 first edition was a frontispiece by John Clark and John Pine depicting the castaway. This early image, however, "offer[s] little insight into the action of the story or Crusoe's emotional development." It would be left to later artists, beginning with Thomas Stothard in a 1790 edition to create images of Crusoe that convey "what David Blewett has called 'a visual summary of the main lines of the story,' thus creating "an instance of eighteenth-century narrative painting.' Stothard depicts Crusoe not as a sinful or isolated figure, but as a social man who leaves his family with regret and who rejoices in his companionship with Friday and, later, with the Spanish lieutenant. Rather than fear, he emphasizes contentment, harmony, and the nobility of man, including that of the 'noble savage,' Friday. His designs set an idealistic and romantic standard that subsequent artists aspired to equal" (quotes from "Picturing the First Castaway: The Illustration of Robinson Crusoe," an on-line exhibit of Rutgers University, http:www.camden.rutgers.edu/Camden/Crusoe/Pages/crusoe.html; accessed 21 August 2006).
In his bibliography of Defoe's text, scholar and collector Henry Clinton Hutchins, wrote: "No reference to Robinson Crusoe would be complete unless mention was made of the frontispiece of the first edition: the famous copper-plate illustration by Clark and Pine, representing the poor castaway in what must have been a remarkably trying costume for hot weather--which we are assured the weather was at the time of the shipwreck... This illustration has outlasted several centuries of criticism. We always look for it and are disappointed when we do not find it... It has come to be the accepted portrait; no legend is required: one knows that he is looking at Robinson Crusoe" (Henry Clinton Hutchins, Robinson Crusoe and its Printing [New York: Columbia University Press, 1925], p. xvii).
Appropriately, the text itself gives the impression that Crusoe is a liminal figure, literally "stranded" between savagery and civilization: he attempts to maintain a dignified appearance but he is, in the end, dressed in animal skins-yet another reminder, perhaps, of Adam in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:7, 21-note that their garments of animal skins come from divine Providence, perhaps leading to the conclusion that Crusoe's do, as well, which conclusion would certainly advance the thematic interests of the book).
The entire structural "arc" of this section, occurring at roughly the midpoint of the text, serves to recapitulate that which took place when Crusoe was first shipwrecked. Readers will recall how, following his initial shipwreck, Crusoe thanked God for deliverance, but then, through misadventure that led to a reading of Scripture, underwent a deepening of his religious faith. The character undergoes a similar movement at this point: following his second shipwreck (i.e., the wreck of his canoe), he undergoes the "misadventures" of discovering the footprint and the evidence of cannibalism upon the beach, which eventually drive him back to the Bible-not only Psalm 50 this time but also Psalm 27-and another deepening of religious faith. This "doubling" of events and their consequences for Crusoe's spiritual life are probably means by which Defoe wants to emphasize the ostensible morality of his tale: "'twas my unquestion'd Duty to resign my self absolutely and entirely to [God's] Will." Ironically, however, Crusoe's newly intense gratitude to God takes on a form of prayer that Jesus, in Luke 18, condemns as hypocrisy. Crusoe gives thanks that God "cast [Crusoe's] first Lot in a Part of the World, where I was distinguish'd from such dreadful Creatures as these," just as the Pharisee in Jesus' parable prays, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people." (Luke 18:11). Whether Crusoe intended to create this dissonance, it is inherent in Crusoe's prayer.
Crusoe's extended meditations upon savagery in this section-not to mention his discovery of the footprint, one of the most famous moments in the story-further prepare the readers for the impending introduction of Friday into the narrative (impending in terms of the narrative as it is presented, not of its own internal chronology, for at least two years pass), who will emerge as an archetypal "noble savage," confounding Crusoe's expectations (as well, perhaps, of those of Defoe's contemporary audience). Friday will not represent "a Pitch of inhuman, hellish Brutality, and the Horror of the Degeneracy of Humane Nature."
Robinson Crusoe Study GuideChoose to Continue
- Robinson Crusoe
- 1. "I was born."
- 2. "As my new Patron."
- 3. "The generous Treatment."
- 4. "After I had solac'd my Mind."
- 5. "My Thoughts were now wholly employ'd."
- 6. Crusoe’s Journal, September 30 through June 27 (pp. 52-67)
- 7. Crusoe's Journal, June 28 through September 30
- 8. "The rainy Season."
- 9. "I was now, in the Months of November and December."
- 10. "But all this while."
- 11. "I had now been here so long."
- 12. "I improv'd my self in this time."
- 13. "I was something impatient."
- 14. "Things going on thus."
- 15. "I believe the Reader of this will not think strange."
- 16. "I have been in all my Circumstances."
- 17. "After I had been two or three Days."
- 18. "After Friday and I became."
- 19. "The rainy Season."
- 20. "Having now Society enough."
- 21. "All I shew'd them."
- 22. "When we had talk'd a while."
- Character Profiles
- Metaphor Analysis
- Theme Analysis
- Top Ten Quotes
- Daniel Defoe
- Essay Q&A