Robinson Crusoe: Novel Summary: 22. "When we had talk'd a while."

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22. "When we had talk'd a while."

"When we had talk'd a while." through the end of the text (pages 197-220)
After arranging to leave behind a number of the mutineers, who would rather chance their fortunes on the island than face trial upon returning to England, Crusoe and the captain depart, bringing the castaway's long exile-just over twenty-eight years-to a close. When he arrives in England, Crusoe feels "as perfect a Stranger to all the World, as if I had never been known there." He learns that all of his family, save two sisters, have died. More happily, however, he finds that he has, in his absence, become a rich man, thanks largely to the investment and management of profits from his plantation in Brazil. Crusoe resolves to return to his plantation-but, understandably, traveling as much as possible by land instead of by sea! Crusoe and Friday, who stays with him, face some further adventures, including a perilous journey through snowbound Navarre in which Friday shoots a bear, but eventually arrive safely in Callais, from whence they travel by sea to Dover, and then to Lisbon and the Brazils. Crusoe is persuaded, however, to delay his departure for a full seven years. Once he does begin the voyage, he stops along the way at the island, and finds the "Collony" he left behind to be thriving. Once he arrives at Brazil, he sends more supplies and people to the island. Crusoe concludes his narrative by offering, perhaps, to relate both his further adventures, and those of the island's colonists, at some future date.
Analysis
Reflecting upon the wealth he has earned in his absence, Crusoe writes, "[T]he latter End of Job was better than the Beginning." In this section, which brings the narrative to a close, we do indeed see Crusoe's experience paralleling that of the Bible's most famous suffering individual. As "the LORD restored the fortunes of Job. twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10), so does Crusoe experience reunion with family and restoration of wealth. Readers cannot help but reflect upon the irony-whether intended by Defoe or not-of this former castaway, who has learned to live so long and so ingeniously without wealth, now returning to his former life of prosperity apparently unchanged by the experience. Modern readers might expect Crusoe, who has been fond of drawing moral lessons from his life throughout the book, to arrive at such conclusions as, "I had discovered what was truly important in life." But no such introspection or reevaluation of priorities is forthcoming from Crusoe-although, in Crusoe's defense, he does give away much of his fortune, providing for the needs of his former captain and his widowed sisters, for example. Instead, Crusoe simply ascribes his "new" fortune to the agency of Providence. Perhaps, then, his lack of sustained reflection upon it is in keeping with the main lesson he learned while on the island, which was-to again quote Job-"Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?"
It is also, of course, very much in keeping with the Puritan belief that material wealth was a sign of God's blessing: Crusoe is thus possibly to be seen as being "rewarded" for his faith and trust in God during his exile. The book's ending, therefore, one final time reinforces the theme stated at its beginning in the preface: namely, the "Wisdom of Providence in all the Variety of our Circumstances" has been vindicated. Crusoe has offered his testimony as evidence of "Providence's Checquer-Work," and has shown how patient submission to Providence has rewarded him.
As promised in the text's final paragraph, readers would meet Robinson Crusoe again. "Inspired by the immediate popularity of Robinson Crusoe, Defoe wrote a sequel, generally regarded as inferior and anticlimactic to the original work. Part II recounts Crusoe's marriage, the return to his beloved island, and the death of Friday" (Robert B. Downs, Famous Books Since 1492 [New York: Barnes & Noble, 1961] 111). "To its author, Robinson Crusoe was a work not of entertainment but of edification, though the didactic second part is seldom printed in modern editions. What the book has come to mean to the world is the epic of civilized man as a single-handed antagonist of nature" (Stanley J. Kunitz & Howard Haycraft, British Authors Before 1800 [New York: H. W. Wilson, 1952] 147-48).
Among its direct successors can be counted Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels and-as one might guess from its title-Johann Rudolf Wyss' Swiss Family Robinson (1841). Additionally, Robinson Crusoe "provided a fundamental model for many science fiction stories" (John Clute & Peter Nicholls, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction [New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1995] 1017)-including the amusingly titled film Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964). It is possible to trace the story's influence to later works as sublime as William Golding's Lord of the Flies and as ridiculous as television's Gilligan's Island (whose theme song includes the verse, "No phone, no lights no motor cars, / Not a single luxury, / Like Robinson Crusoe, / As primitive as can be"). Indeed, Robinson Crusoe has left a significant footprint upon English literature-no less so, one might say, than the iconic footprint Crusoe discovers, in wonder and fear, upon the beach of his remote island.

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