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Section 4


Unsurprisingly, the group meets with a ferocious hurricane almost immediately after they set sail. The ship is thrown desperately off course, and they are forced to land wherever they can find a coastline. Making towards land in a lifeboat, the group is swallowed by a huge wave. Fortuitously, and only after he is tossed violently for some time, Robinson is washed up on shore. Night is coming on, and he is of course panicked, since he has no clothes save the wet ones he's got on, no comrades (they all seem to be dead), no food, and no provisions of any kind. He is at the mercy of the elements, as well as any wild animals that come upon him. He sleeps in a tree, hoping that that will shelter him from any attack.

In the morning, Robinson finds that his ship has moved during the night, and is now stuck on a large rock. He manages to swim out to it and raids the ship for food and water. He then begins to think of building a raft to carry his booty to shore. Robinson's description of building the raft is rather detailed, and part of the reason for this is in order to explain the surprising turn of events in Robinson's thoughts about value. Whereas the trip itself is premised on his money-hungry desires -- his urges for more gold and cheap slaves -- during the building of the raft he realizes that the wood he's found is worth more to him than any amount of gold would be. You can't float on gold.

Robinson takes ammunition, guns, swords, water and food with him on shore. After landing -- no small task considering he has no rudder to guide him or oars to propel him -- he begins to seek a place to set up camp. Upon exploration of the landscape, Robinson is more dejected than ever: he is on an island. And what's more, it's barren. He decides to return to the ship several more times to gather supplies like tools, clothes, a hammock and a spare sail. He is also pleased to discover a vast supply of bread.

After he's finished emptying the ship of its useful contents, Robinson builds a tent -- another enterprise that is described in great detail. He even provides himself with a door. He brings his provisions inside, including the gunpowder, which he carefully separates into bags and stashes inside his dwelling, which he now refers to as his cave. Only after he explains how he is able to produce this makeshift home for himself, does Robinson describe his state of mind. He's preoccupied, he tells us, with the conviction that he will end his days on the island -- a thought that produces tears when he thinks about it. Robinson also muses on the cruelty of a divine force that would abandon him so helplessly, leaving him in such a desolate, impossible state. He finds it hard to be thankful that his life is saved. Nevertheless, Robinson always falls short of total misery when he reminds himself that the other ten sailors perished in the sea. When he considers that he alone was spared this death, and furthermore that he was able to retain much of the ship's provisions, Robinson feels fortunate.

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Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 9
Section 10
Section 11
Section 12
Section 13
Section 14
Section 15
Section 16
Section 17


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