by Daniel Defoe
Mr. and Mrs. Crusoe (Robinson Crusoe's Parents)
Robinson Crusoe's father is introduced right away, and with good reason. As the prodigal son, Crusoe must deny his father's advice to follow the middle path of life in order to go after his own "wandring Inclination" (5-6). Crusoe's relationship with his biological father can be read as an earthly version of his relationship with his spiritual father (i.e., God). We'll see Crusoe consistently denying the power and authority of God as well – at least in the first half of the novel.
As we come to see, disobeying one's parents is not a good idea. Crusoe tells us:
…I went on Board in an evil Hour, the 1st of Sept. 1659, boarding the same Day eight Year that I went from my Father and Mother at Hull, in order to act the Rebel to their Authority, and the Fool to my own interest. (36)
Most of the poor decisions Crusoe makes in his life, he traces back to the initial rebellion against his parents – especially his father. It's his father's words that come to mind when he eventually submits to the authority of God. Take the following passage, for example:
In this Interval, the good Advice of my Father came to my Mind, and presently his Prediction which I mentioned at the Beginning of the Story, viz. That if I did take this foolish Step, God would not bless me, and I would have Leisure hereafter to reflect upon having neglected his Counsel, when there might be none to assist in my Recovery. Now, said I aloud, My dear Father's Words are come to pass: God's Justice has overtaken me, and I have none to help or hear me: I rejected the Voice of Providence, which had mercifully put me in a Posture or Station of Life, wherein I might have been happy and easy; but I would neither see it my self, or learn to know the Blessing of it from my Parents; I left them to mourn over my Folly, and now I am left to mourn under the Consequences of it: I refus'd their Help and Assistance who would have lifted me into the World, and wou'd have made every Thing easy to me, and now I have Difficulties to struggle with, too great for even Nature itself to support, and no Assistance, no Help, no Comfort, no Advice; then I cry'd out, Lord be my Help, for I am in Great Distress. (78)
In the grips of the flu (or "Ague" as Crusoe calls in on page 75), Crusoe has a fever dream in which a man comes down from the heavens and admonishes him for not yet repenting and tries to kill him with a spear. He begins to see that his past behaviors – especially the rejection of his parents' advice long before – have been sinful, and his miseries are punishments for his rebellious behavior. Here, Crusoe finally repents and utters his first prayer.Timeline