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Summary

Robinson Crusoe Escape from the Island Summary Page 1

  • One day, Crusoe is heading to his boat when he sees a man's footprint in the sand. Gasp! This is quite a shock to old Crusoe, and he proceeds to have a right proper freak out.
  • Crusoe considers that the footprint might have been the work of the devil, but concludes that a footprint really isn't the devil's style. He decides, then, that it must be from the "Savages" over on the mainland (131).
  • The freak-out continues over a period of days and weeks as Crusoe is overcome with fear. A religious crisis ensues, though eventually he realizes that he should submit to God's will. He reads accompanying scripture verses to calm down.
  • Crusoe convinces himself it could have been his own foot and goes about his chores and milks the goats. He then returns to the footprint and measure it against his own; that's when he realizes it must be the natives over on the mainland.
  • Terrified, Crusoe considers demolishing the enclosures, fields, and his summer home, but decides against it.
  • Crusoe reveals he is in his fifteenth year on the island; he decides that perhaps the natives often visited the island and that he should take precautions.
  • Crusoe builds a second fort from which to fire his guns, as if they were cannons.  He also moves his flock of goats around into a few different enclosures so the whole lot wouldn't be lost all at once.
  • Around this time, Crusoe sees what he takes to be a ship out at sea. Investigating further on shore, he finds piles of human remains: bones, skulls, and bodies. Sickened, he vomits.
  • Crusoe realizes that the natives are cannibals and probably visit this island from time to time to kill their enemies and eat them. Mind melt.
  • The humans-eating-humans stuff hits Crusoe pretty hard, and he thanks God that he wasn't born into a cannibal culture. Gratitude ensues.
  • We learn that Crusoe is in his eighteenth year on the island, and after the discovery of the cannibals, he is much more cautious and sticks to his "own Circle" (140). That is, his main house, country house, and the fort he built himself out in the woods.
  • Crusoe is much more cautious in his day-to-day activities and never goes abroad without two pistols and a sword.
  • Crusoe considers learning to brew beer, but gives up this plan (no supplies) and instead hatches a few plots against the cannibals.
  • Crusoe decides to ambush the cannibals and shoot them up with his considerable ammo. Crusoe watches for their ship daily, but soon begins to question this plan.
  • Crusoe starts to wonder if he should truly enact revenge upon the cannibals if they don't understand that what they're doing is wrong. He asks, "What Authority, or Call I had, to pretend to be Judge and Execution upon these Men as Criminals, whom Heaven had though fit for so many Ages to suffer unpunish'd" (144).
  • Crusoe soon realizes he is in the wrong and that to slay the cannibals would be just as bad as what the Spanish did to the natives in America.
  • Crusoe realizes that it is God's place, not his, to judge the practices of other cultures.
  • After this epiphany, Crusoe leads a retired and cautious life free from plotting against the cannibals. He's a bit melancholy from time to time, but always thankful to God and given to religious reflection.
  • Crusoe's activities tend toward ensuring his safety rather than hunting or gathering food. He relocates, for the most part, to his most secure abode: the fort in the woods.
  • One day, he's in the woods making charcoal, cutting away brush, when he finds a cave with a male goat dying in it. Crusoe uses the cave as a storage space for his extra guns and ammo. He also buries the goat.
  • Twenty three years have now gone by and Crusoe occupies himself with his many animal friends: Poll, his dog, the cats, the goats, the sea birds, etc.
  • In December, during the harvest, Crusoe sees the light of fire down on the sea shore. With the help of his handy spyglass, he sees nine naked savages sitting around the fire being cannibals (we don't really want to think too hard about what "being cannibals" involves).
  • They leave and Crusoe finds human remains at their fire pit down by the beach. Evil! He once again begins plotting the destruction of the natives.
  • Fifteen months go by, and the natives don't return. But Crusoe remains in the murdering mood and dreams of killing the men.
  • One day in May, Crusoe hears a gun fire at sea. A ship! He builds a fire to signal to the ship and the firing continues. The next day, Crusoe realizes that the ship is actually wrecked, having hit some rocks.
  • The firing has stopped and Crusoe realizes the men on the ship are dead. He is thrown into despair since he had come so darn close to human contact again – and to having someone to talk to. He is filled with regret. "O that it had been but One!" (159).
  • Days later, the body of a boy from the shipwreck washes up on the shore. Crusoe gets it into his head to take his boat out into the ocean to the wreck to search it.
  • After watching for the currents, Crusoe takes his little boat out to the wrecked ship. It's Spanish. There are no survivors, but he meets a dog (who he takes back with him to the island), along with two seaman's chests, a powder horn, and various odds and ends.
  • Back on shore, Crusoe finds a few useful items in the chests, along with gold – not a lot of use to him, but whatever. He puts it all in storage in his cave.
  • Two more years go by and things return to relative normalcy. Crusoe becomes obsessed with escaping the island instead of resigning himself to the Providence of God.
  • Around this time, twenty-four years on the island, Crusoe gets insomnia and begins reviewing the entirety of his life. He becomes fixated on the natives and convinced that he must travel over to the mainland.
  • Crusoe has an important dream in which the natives return to the island to eat one of their captives. The captive escapes and runs straight to Crusoe's little grove, where he kneels down before Crusoe. He becomes a servant and later a guide. He can take Crusoe to the mainland and help him escape.
  • After the dream, Crusoe becomes obsessed with possessing one of the natives (or their captives) in order to aid his own escape – as he did in the dream. He watches and waits for another year and a half.  This guy has developed some real patience by now
  • One morning, there are five canoes on the beach with thirty natives in all. They have two victims with them, one of whom escapes and manages to outrun his captors.
  • To assist the man, Crusoe grabs his guns. He knocks one of the man's pursuers out with his gun and shoots the other.
  • The saved man kneels at Crusoe's feet as if to swear to be Crusoe's "Slave for ever" (172).
  • Turns out one of the pursuers is actually not dead, so Crusoe's new friend cuts the guy's head off with a sword. (Whoa.) He buries the two bodies.
  • Crusoe and his new friend go to Crusoe's cave, where the man eats and sleeps. Crusoe watches him sleep and gives us a kind of creepily detailed description of his face, body, and clothes.
  • When the man awakes, Crusoe takes care of a few details: first, he names the man "Friday." Then he teaches the man how to say "Master" (174).  What a start.
  • Crusoe has to reform the man, who is a cannibal, so they return to the scene of the crime and he makes Friday burn the bones to ashes. No more eating flesh for you, Mr. Friday.
  • Crusoe also clothes Friday in attire similar to what Crusoe wears. He makes a little tent for Friday outside of Crusoe's fortifications, where he can sleep.
  • Their relationship, according to Crusoe, is "like those of a Child to a Father" (176).
  • Crusoe thinks about how, even though Friday and his people have not heard the word of God, Friday still seems to be capable of humanity: reason, affection, and kindness. Weird, huh?
  • Crusoe teaches Friday English and then blows Friday's mind a little more by shooting a bunch of different animals with a gun.
  • Crusoe feeds Friday boiled and roasted animal flesh, which Friday likes. (He's not a big salt fan, though.)
  • Crusoe puts Friday to work with more planting, and the two lead a happy existence.
  • Eventually, Crusoe hears Friday's story: he was a prisoner of war. His nation fought and won against Friday's captors, but Friday was still taken prisoner.
  • Crusoe also pumps Friday for info about the mainland.
  • Crusoe learns about Friday's native religion (he worships "Benamuckee") and decides to convert him to Christianity (182).
  • Crusoe teaches Friday about Jesus Christ, evil, and the devil. Friday has a difficult time with the concept of the devil and so the two enter into a theological debate. Friday wants to know why God would allow the devil to exist in the world.
  • Crusoe prays to God for help in answering Friday's questions. He realizes that in teaching Friday, he is also teaching himself. He is thankful for the opportunity. Soon enough, Friday becomes a good Christian (according to Crusoe's standards).
  • Crusoe tells Friday his own story of origin, shows him the mysterious gun and how to use it, and shows Friday the shipwreck from whence he came.
  • Friday tells Crusoe about a bunch of white men that the natives had saved from drowning. Crusoe guesses that these might be the men from the floundering ship. He learns that the men live in a truce with the natives. This might just be Crusoe's ticket off the island!
  • Crusoe is a little afraid that Friday might still be attached to his home nation, but he soon learns that Friday wants to return home only if Crusoe will come with him so the two can help convert his people to Christianity.  OK, then.
  • The two begin to build a large boat much like the last one Crusoe constructed but couldn't get into the water. They fell a tree and carve out its base. Crusoe also adds a mast, sail, anchor, and a rudder. The project takes several months.
  • Once the boat, is complete Crusoe teaches Friday how to sail.
  • The twenty-seventh anniversary of Crusoe's "captivity" on the island passes (193). He is thankful for God's mercies along the way.
  • The rainy season comes and the men wait for it to pass before setting out on their voyage. Crusoe prepares provisions.
  • Friday is out looking for turtles for the journey, when he sees three canoes on the island. Looks like it's cannibal time again!
  • Crusoe and Friday grab their weapons (guns, swords) and each take shots of rum.
  • Crusoe wonders whether it's right or not to go after the cannibals in this way, but turns out their prisoner is a European man. Guess that means it's OK to go after them.
  • A huge battle ensues in which Crusoe, with Friday following, set upon the cannibal men and fire guns at them.
  • In the battle, Crusoe manages to free one of the prisoners, who turns out to be a Spanish man.
  • Crusoe, Friday, and the Spanish prisoner kill seventeen of the cannibals, but four escape in their canoe. Fortunately, a big wind comes upon the ocean and it's doubtful whether the escaped cannibals even make it back to the mainland. (They don't.)
  • They also free a man from the cannibal's canoes, and guess who it turns out to be? Friday's own father! Serendipity-doo. Friday is very emotional about the whole thing, as is Crusoe.  We are too.
  • Crusoe and Friday give the former prisoners water and food. They build a tent for them, complete with beds.
  • Crusoe is tickled pink by these developments: "My Island was now peopled, and I thought my self very rich in Subjects; and it was a merry Reflection I frequently made, How like a King I look'd" (203).
  • They all dine together on goat stew. Crusoe asks Friday's dad if the natives will return in full force to take revenge, but the old man seems to think the natives will probably be too scared of the gunfire, thinking it to be the thunder and lightning of the gods.  Convenient.
  • Crusoe pumps the Spanish man for information about the mainland. He wants to know if the Europeans on the island have any means of escape (they don't), and if he can trust them to go along with his own scheme.
  • Crusoe is suspicious of the Spanish generally: "I had rather be deliver'd up to the <em>Savages,</em> and be devour'd alive, than fall into the merciless Claws of the Priests, and be carry'd into the <em>Inquisition</em>" (206).
  • The Spaniard assuages Crusoe's fears and says that the Spanish men would be thankful to Crusoe. To prove the point, he himself swears eternal allegiance to Crusoe.
  • The Spaniard also mentions that they should wait to bring the other Europeans over to the island until there's enough food and supplies for everyone. This is to quell any potential resistance or rebellion. Smart guy.
  • Everyone agrees and they plant more rice and barley. In the meantime, they also make planks, get more goats, and raisins. Eventually they increase the harvest from 22 bushels of barley to 220 bushels.
  • Finally the time has come to contact the other Europeans, and Crusoe sends the Spaniard and Friday's father as emissaries.
  • Eight days go by when Friday spots a boat. Is it them? No! It's an English longboat instead. Interesting.
  • Seeing as how there are no trade routes through here and no storms recently, Crusoe wonders what all this is about.
  • The boat hits land and we find out that there are eleven men on board, three of whom are prisoners who are being abused by the other men. Crusoe wonders how to free them.
  • The men explore the island and Crusoe, hearing the men talk, realizes they are English.
  • Crusoe waits until it's dark and gears himself and Friday up for a battle. Meanwhile, most of the boat's men straggle into the woods to nap. Crusoe sees the prisoners who are left under a tree.
  • Crusoe talks to prisoners first in Spanish, then in English. He lets them know he is their deliverer. He learns from the men that they are the victims of a mutiny. The three prisoners are the commander of the ship, his mate, and a passenger.
  • The three plot to take over the crew – there are two villains among them. Robinson Crusoe says he will help the men as long as they swear allegiance to him. So the captain swears his allegiance.
  • Crusoe lists his further conditions: that he is the ultimate authority on the island and that if the ship is recovered he'll get a trip back to England for free.
  • With all that agreed upon, Crusoe gives the men muskets. They attack the mutineers and kill two of the scoundrels. Three of the men beg for mercy, which is granted.
  • Three more men return and see the old captain and again submit to be prisoners.
  • Crusoe and the captain exchange stories. The captain is moved by Crusoe's tale as "tears ran down his Face, and he could not speak a word more" (217).
  • Crusoe give the captain and his men food and show them around his house.
  • They plot further: how can they get to the big ship back at sea? There are still 26 mutineers on board!
  • Eventually the men hit upon a plan. They know the other men will be landing on the shore soon.
  • They empty the longboat of provisions and put a hole on it. Then they hide.
  • Eventually ten armed men land on shore. The captain tells us that of the men, three are honest and the rest are "outragious" (219).
  • The captain and Crusoe debate whether or not to overtake them, the captain fearing they aren't powerful enough. Crusoe convinces him otherwise.
  • First, though, the former prisoners are sent with Friday to Crusoe's cave to be kept prisoner. Others are taken into the plan and join Crusoe and the captain.
  • The mutinous men finally land on shore, see the boat, and are totally surprised. They fire their guns and receive no answer.  They all get back on their boat.
  • The captain is surprised, but then the men return again to the shore. This time, though, they leave three men in the boat and send the other seven on shore to investigate.
  • When the men can't find anyone, they consult under a tree. Crusoe and the captain and their men wait in hiding.
  • Crusoe eventually cooks up a plan in which he has Friday yell and lure some of the men into the interior of the island. This leaves only a few men in the boat.
  • Crusoe and his gang then charge the boat and overtake the men there.
  • Got it.
  • After a while, the men Friday lured away return and are confused to find their boat a-ground. They obviously think the island is "inchanted" (224).  We can see how that would be creepy.
  • Crusoe and company wait, and eventually the captain is able to kill the ringleader.
  • They then parley and finally get the rest of the men to surrender by convincing them that they are surrounded by 50 men. They also call Crusoe the "Governour" of the island (225).
  • The men surrender, though Crusoe keeps himself out of sight. The fiction is impressed upon the men by the captain that Crusoe is an English man who is indeed governor of the island.
  • A little playacting goes a long way. More men are put in the cave and others, less risky ones, are taken to the bower.
  • The captain puts the men on trial and they are presented with the option of joining in the takeover of the ship or hanging in England. They pledge allegiance to Crusoe.
  • Five men are taken into service and five men are kept as hostages.
  • The expedition is set and the captain takes his men aboard the boat to seize it from the last remaining mutineers. On the boat, the mate shoots the new captain in the head. (Yes, we just grimaced too.)
  • Crusoe, still back on the island, goes to sleep that night, and when he wakes up he's declared new captain of the ship.
  • Crusoe is so shocked by the success of these plans that the captain has to pull out a "Dram of Cordial" to revive him (229).
  • The men present Crusoe with a number of gifts and bounty from the captured ship: cordial waters, wine, tobacco, pork, beef, peas, and most importantly, a new set of clothes.
  • Now the real question: what to do with the leftover prisoners? Crusoe is reluctant to bring them along on their voyage off the island.
  • Captain and Crusoe do a little more playacting, and by hanging the old captain up by the yard arm, the men eventually beg for mercy.
  • Crusoe leaves them on the island with instructions for survival, their chests, and a letter for the Spaniard who will soon return.
  • Finally, at long last, Crusoe leaves in his vessel on December 19, 1686, after being upon the island "eight and twenty Years, two Months, and 19 Days" (234). He arrives in England June 11, 1687. Home at last!
  • Back in England, Crusoe catches up with the widow whom he left in trust with his money. He gives her some compensation. He checks in on his family, too, but his father, mother, and pretty much whole family is dead.  Guess it had been a few decades.
  • The captain whose life he saved gives him 200 pounds sterling.
  • Cruse then decides to go to Lisbon with Friday (who accompanied him back to England, by the way) to check on his plantations in Brazil.
  • In Lisbon, he meets with the Portuguese captain he met on his journeys of off the coast of Africa all those years ago. The captain lets him know his plantations are on hold for him to be claimed.
  • His partner back in Brazil has given him money and it's on hold. Crusoe wonders why the Portuguese captain didn't get the holdings, since he was his universal heir, but the captain says it's because the death was not certain.
  • The captain does give him an account of first six years of his income, though.
  • Eventually Crusoe decides to check in with his plantation, and writes and then gets a packet from the trustees. The long and short of it is that Crusoe gets a lot of money from his plantation.
  • As Crusoe puts it: "I was now Master, all on a Sudden, of above 5000 l. Sterling in Money, and had an Estate, as I might well call it, in the <em>Brasils</em>, of above a thousand Pounds a Year, as sure as an Estate of Lands in <em>England</em>" (240)
  • He compensates the captain and helps the widow out too. (Notice Friday does not get any funds out of this.  But we digress.)
  • Now the question is where does Crusoe go from here? He decides not to go to his plantation in Brazil, but back to England to settle his affairs.
  • A long land journey thence commences from the continent (Europe) to England. The party consists of an English gentleman, some Portuguese gentlemen, and English merchants. Six guys total, plus five servants.
  • The party begins in Madrid and treks along. Friday is a little taken aback by the snow and mountains. They pick up a guide along the way.
  • During the journey they get attacked by wolves. They are able to defend themselves, however.
  • Friday also meddles with a bear and indulges in bear baiting, much to the amusement of Crusoe and his party.
  • The party encounters various wolves, resting along the way when the guide becomes sick.
  • Eventually they reach France, and then on to Calais and Dover on January 14th.
  • Crusoe considers going back to Lisbon briefly, but he is dissuaded.
  • Crusoe instead gets married and has "three Children, two Sons and one Daughter" (256).
  • Crusoe's wife dies much later (you know, a few paragraphs) and he takes another trip in 1694 and visits his "new Collony in the Island" to see the Spaniards and hear their stories (257). He leaves them with supplies and divides up the island, giving them each certain portions.
  • Crusoe also visits Brazil and decides to send some women back to the island for wives.
  • Crusoe ends his narrative with a promise of more adventures, perhaps to be told in a sequel.
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