Robinson Crusoe

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Robinson Crusoe Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrator summarizes his early life. He was born in 1632, in York, England, though his father's family (the Kreutznauers) were originally German. His mother was English, with the last name Robinson. He was named Robinson Kreutznauer, but the last name became corrupted in English, so he was known as Robinson Crusoe.
In a sense, Robinson has two last names (since "Robinson" comes from his mother's maiden name). His entire identity is dictated by his family. In order to become his own individual, he will have to break free from his own home.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Robinson felt a strong desire to go to sea, even though both his parents were against this idea. One day, his father called him into his room. He told Robinson that going to sea was for desperate people, or wealthy people seeking adventures, and that Robinson was middle class. His father told him that the "middle station" was the best position in life, free from both the anxieties that come with privilege and power and the problems of poverty.
Robinson's father wisely advises him against going to sea, but Robinson will have to learn the dangers of the seafaring life for himself. Robinson's life in England is comfortable and nice, but it is precisely this stagnant comfort that he desires to get away from in wanting to risk a life at sea.
Themes
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
Urging Robinson not to go, his father promised to help establish him in a comfortable life at home, but, amid tears, warned him that if he joined a boat and went to sea, there would be no one to help him in his troubles and God would not even bless him. Robinson notes that this last part of his father's speech was prophetic.
Robinson's father again stresses the comfort of his family's life in England. Looking back, Robinson sees that his father's comment about God was prescient: he will later come to see his rebelling against his father as his "original sin."
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
After speaking with his father, Robinson resolved to stay home, but this feeling wore off after a few days. He planned to run away and told his mother, who warned him that he would ruin himself if he left. About a year later, Robinson finally "broke loose" and left home, when a friend encouraged him to join a ship from Hull to London.
Robinson tries to stay in England, but is unable to be content with a comfortable, unexciting life. He feels the need to break free from his family and lead a life as his own person.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
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