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Section 8

Island Life

He has now been on the island for two years. On the anniversary of this occasion, he thanks God humbly for the luxuries and good fortune he has come across -- the abundance of food and his ability to eke out a comfortable existence. He thanks God for making up for his isolation through His presence. He begins to feel as if his solitary existence is in fact happier than the life he had been living in society. He reflects that whereas previously he had walked about the island acutely conscious of his loneliness and his entrapment there, he now feels as if it is more possible to be happy in his solitude than it would be to be happy in civilized society. He thanks God for bringing him to the island.

Robinson embarks on this third year on the island, which he will recount in great detail, he tells us, but which consists mainly of reading the Bible in three separate sittings a day, searching for food every morning for three hours, and preserving and cooking the animals he shoots or fruits and vegetables he gathers and harvests. He works on his corn and barley crops, refining his methods of protecting them from scavenging birds. He teaches himself how to make bread -- a turn of events that he is very delighted with, and remarks that he now works for his bread, thus making the idiom quite literal. Robinson is in awe of all the factors that go into something as simple as bread. He spends six months making the tools he needs to grind the grain and make the corn ready for integration into a loaf.

Robinson also acquires a parrot, who he spends time teaching how to speak his name, Poll. This is the first word he hears spoken since he's landed on the island. He also teaches himself to make sun-baked earthenware pots, by great trial and error. He improves upon this system by fashioning a kind of ad hoc kiln, after which he has pots in abundance. He is now able to make himself a stew. He also equips himself with a mortar and pestle for pounding grains into meal.

Robinson becomes interested in finding the wreck of his boat once again. He travels up the island in search of where it is beached. He uses planks from the boat to fashion a kind of raft-like mechanism large enough to hold himself and all his possessions. Unfortunately, however, he finds himself unable to get the canoe, as he calls it, the 100 yards to the water.

He finishes his third year on the island and reflects on his absolute distance from the civilized world. He conceives himself to be so removed from it as to not even desire to return. What does he enjoy about being apart from Western society? He does not feel lust on the island, first of all. And neither does he feel pride. He covets nothing -- he is envious of no-one; who would he have to be envious of? He is in competition with no-one, and must bear the laws of no sovereign. He avoids the pitfalls of luxury, since if he produces more corn than he can eat, for instance, or kills more animals than he can stomach in a reasonable period of time, the meat and vegetables will simply spoil. Robinson decides that the only good things in this world are those that we can use, as opposed to luxury items that exceed our immediate needs. This emotion, of course, is described as in direct contradistinction to the overriding attitude of the Western world.

Browse all book notes

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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