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Section 9

Not Alone?

Robinson begins to notice that some of the supplies that he brought from the boat are deteriorating or have been almost entirely consumed. His ink, for instance. And his clothes are decaying, which is a problem since without them, he will be unable to bear the sun's strength. He uses the skins of animals that he's killed to produce makeshift apparel as well as an umbrella. After some more time passes (Robinson's now been on the island for five years), he digs a canal from where the canoe is, to the water. He is able to launch it at last. He decides to tour the perimeter of the island on the boat, and makes a mast and sail for it, also fixing the umbrella to it for shade. He sets out on November 6th, in the 6th year of his stay on the island. His voyage quickly turns dangerous, however, as Robinson gets caught up in a current, and finds himself unable to land again on shore. He looks on his island with longing and wishes only to be on shore again. By chance, the next day, the winds change, and he is brought close into shore again, finally able to land.

Of course, Robinson has landed quite a ways from his habitation on the island, and doesn't want to have to sail back, since the travel was perilous. He stashes the boat on shore and sets off on foot. After some searching, he finds his country house and falls into a sleepy stupor from which he is roused by someone calling his name and asking where he's been. When he rouses himself enough to focus, he finds that Poll is calling him. He is amazed that the parrot has traveled from the tent to the country house, and welcomes the bird warmly. He spends the next year very sedately, he tells us, working on his earthenware, carpentry and wickerware. He is concerned, however, at the dwindling of his gunpowder -- something that he cannot reproduce. He has been on the island for eleven years. He springs traps for goats now, so that he can capture them without wasting gunpowder. Robinson resolves to keep most of the captured goats, to breed them tame instead of shooting wild ones. He sets about enclosing a space of land to keep them in -- no small task, of course. He learns to milk the goats and to make butter and cheese. He is pleased with himself, and begins to regard himself less as a prisoner of the island, and rather as its Sovereign. He also refers to his country house and his primary fortification as his two plantations. He imports terminology, in other words, from his former life and applies it to life on the island.

Robinson is determined to get his boat back to his side of the island, and goes back to fetch it. Along the way, he notices that the sea is much calmer than when he had sailed it. He attributes this to tidal flow, and determines to get a sense of when it is more safe to sail. He decides, finally, to build another canoe for the other side of the island, rather than hazard sailing the original one again.

Things proceed swimmingly until Robinson notices the footprint of a man on the shore near his boat. There's just the one footprint, though. No other tracks coming or going. Robinson is amazed and dumbfounded. He flees home to his tent, which he begins referring to thenceforth as his Castle, since it is fortified against intruders. He decides the footprint must be the work of the Devil in human form, since he thinks it impossible that any other human would have found their way to the island. But then again, he also finds it amusing to imagine that Satan would take human form simply to leave a footprint on a deserted island. Improbable, he thinks, and begins to imagine that it must be the mark of some savage (as he calls them), having traveled by canoe, and come and gone from the island with the currents.

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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