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Themes

What is man's role in the natural world? This is a question Defoe's novel wants you to ask yourself. Crusoe believes himself to be at the head of the social order. When he looks at the natural world, he sees its utility and the value of that. Instead of opining on the beauty of things, he notices production value. He also very much believes in the concept of private property. When Crusoe gets to the island, notice how he immediately believes that he somehow "owns" the island.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Why does Crusoe take the skins of the leopards in Africa?
  2. Why does Crusoe kill the cats on the island?
  3. Why does Crusoe assume that he owns the island?
  4. What is the significance of Friday's encounter with the bear at the end of the book?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Humans should have dominion over the natural world.

Once you extend your labor to a piece of land, it is your property.

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