Robinson Crusoe Summary – Daniel Dafoe

Robinson Crusoe Summary - Daniel Dafoe
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Robinson Crusoe is a literature novel written by Daniel Defoe, first published in 1719. It is often considered the first English novel by many people.

Summary of Robinson Crusoe Book

Robinson Crusoe is a 17th-century Englishman living in the city of York. Despite his father, a German-born merchant, encouraging him to study law, Robinson Crusoe prefers a life at sea. His family opposes his decision to embark on a sea voyage, with his father explaining that seeking a modest and secure life is a better option.

Initially determined to obey his father, Crusoe eventually succumbs to the allure of the sea and boards a ship bound for London with a friend. A storm nearly causes their demise, prompting his friend to abandon the sea journey. However, Robinson Crusoe remains resolute and sets out to establish himself as a merchant on a ship leaving London. This voyage proves financially successful, and Crusoe plans another journey after entrusting his early profits to the care of a kind widow. However, his second journey is less fortunate, as the ship is captured by Algerian pirates, and Robinson Crusoe is sold into slavery to a ruler in the North African city of Sallee.

During a fishing expedition, Crusoe and a slave boy escape, sailing along the African coast. A benevolent Portuguese captain rescues them, buys the slave boy from Crusoe, and transports him to Brazil. In Brazil, Crusoe establishes himself as a plantation owner and prospers quickly. Eager for slave labor and economic advantages, he embarks on a slave-collecting expedition to West Africa but shipwrecks near the coast of Trinidad.

Crusoe learns he is the sole survivor of the expedition and searches for shelter and food. Returning to the wreckage twelve times, he salvages weapons, gunpowder, food, and other items. He discovers goats he can herd for meat and builds a shelter. Robinson Crusoe marks time by carving notches on a cross, practicing various skills, and keeping a journal detailing his activities, including cultivating grain he serendipitously finds sprouting. In June 1660, he falls ill, hallucinates, and believes an angel warns him to repent. Consuming a religious enlightenment-inducing tobacco preparation, he realizes God has spared him from past sins.

After recovering, Robinson Crusoe conducts a survey of the area and realizes he is on an island. He builds a shelter in a pleasant valley with abundant vines, trains a pet parrot, domesticates a goat, and develops skills such as basket weaving, baking bread, and pottery making. He fells a large cedar tree, constructs a large canoe, but realizes he can’t move it to the sea. Building a smaller boat, he sets out to circumnavigate the island but is nearly drowned in a powerful current. Upon reaching land, he hears his parrot’s call, grateful once again for his rescue.

One day, Robinson Crusoe is shocked to discover footprints on the beach. Initially suspecting the devil, he eventually determines they belong to a savage. Alarmed, he arms himself and maintains vigilant surveillance against the savages. He also constructs an underground shelter for cooking and observes nocturnal guards to protect his goats. He experiences another shock when he observes a man running towards his home. Crusoe protects him, kills one pursuer, wounds another, and ultimately kills the one wounded. The saved man acknowledges Robinson Crusoe as his deliverer, and Robinson Crusoe names him Friday, the day of his rescue.

Recognizing Friday’s cheerfulness and intelligence, Crusoe teaches him basic English words and introduces fundamental Christian concepts. Friday reveals that the savages are divided by nationality and only consume their enemies. He expresses the desire to return to his people, worrying Crusoe about the possibility of losing him.

Robinson Crusoe contemplates making contact with the Spaniards, considering Friday’s confession that he would prefer death to losing Robinson Crusoe. Together, they build a canoe and embark on a journey to visit the land of the savages. Before departing, Robinson Crusoe instructs Friday to call him if any danger arises. During their exploration, they encounter savages with three prisoners. After cleverly confusing and tiring the savages, they overpower them and rescue the captives, discovering one of them is Spanish. Crusoe sets out to rescue the other prisoners, with Friday and a party of friendly savages.

Upon nearing the captives, Crusoe becomes suspicious of an approaching English ship. He and Friday manage to surprise and disarm the would-be captors, freeing the prisoners. Robinson Crusoe learns that the English ship is a mutineer’s vessel, with the captain and crew killed. They decide to keep five mutineers hostage and allow the others to leave with the ship.

Later, an approaching English ship terrifies Friday, suspecting danger. Robinson Crusoe is cautious but is relieved to discover that the ship is commanded by friendly Englishmen. After liberating the mutineers on the island, Crusoe learns that the captain of the English ship is willing to accept them as his subjects in a proposed colony.

In 1686, on December 19, Crusoe boards the ship to return to England. Upon arriving, he discovers that his family has passed away, but his two sisters are still alive. A widow had preserved Robinson Crusoe’s wealth, and after her journey to Lisbon, where she learns that Crusoe’s plantations in Brazil are highly profitable, she arranges the sale of the Brazilian lands. Robinson Crusoe attempts to return to England overland but faces threats from harsh weather and wild animals in northern Spain.

When he finally returns to England, he finds that the sale of his plantations is completed, and he has amassed a significant fortune. After donating a portion to his widow friend and sisters, Robinson Crusoe remains restless. He considers returning to Brazil but is deterred by the thought of having to convert to Catholicism. He marries, his wife dies, and in 1694, he departs as a merchant for the East Indies. During a visit to the island, he finds that it has become a prosperous colony well-managed by the Spaniards.

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