Robinson Crusoe

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Robinson Crusoe Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
While Robinson wished that someone had survived the wreckage and made it to shore, he says that this was not in his fate. He saw a drowned boy from the ship wash ashore and found in his pockets some money and a tobacco pipe. He says that the pipe was much more useful to him than the money.
Robinson wishes for some human companion, but is resigned to the fact that this was not his fate. The uselessness of the money emphasizes how isolated Robinson is from society.
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Robinson couldn't resist his urge to go out to the stranded ship, both to see if anyone was alive on it and if it had any supplies, so he loaded his boat with some provisions and prepared to go to the boat. But when he was a little ways off-shore, he noticed a powerful current and was worried that he would be driven off to sea, out of sight of his island.
Robinson wants to go to the ship partly because he hopes for a companion on the island. From his previous mistake of going out canoeing almost being driven far out to sea, he has learned to be more careful in venturing onto the water.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
Robinson went back to land and climbed a hill to get a better view of the ocean currents. He noticed another current moving back toward the island, so that he would be able to use this one to return to the island after paddling out to the ship. The next day, he went to the ship, but there were no survivors—only a dog, which he fed and took aboard his boat, and two drowned sailors.
Having learned from his previous boat trip around the island, Robinson now checks the currents before going to the ship. On the ship, he finds no human companions, only another pet.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
The ship was a Spanish vessel, with many supplies on board. Robinson took some chests, some casks of liquor, some gunpowder, and some kitchen implements onto his boat and brought it all back to his island. In the chests, he found some clothes, some bottles, and a good deal of money, which Robinson says was as useless to him as dirt.
Money is again useless to Robinson, since he is living apart from society. However, he takes it back to the island, showing that he still has some hope of one day returning to society.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
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Robinson returned to his prior lifestyle on the island, but his mind was full of plans and ideas for how he might escape the island. He says that his life is a prime example of "the general plague of mankind," which is not being pleased with one's station in life. He says that if he had stayed in Brazil, he could have been one of the foremost planters there.
No longer content with his comfortable existence on the island, Robinson now desires to escape his isolation. With hindsight, Robinson sees that this is a pattern with him, as he is repeatedly unable to remain content with a comfortable life.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
But Robinson concedes that this kind of ambition and desire is typical of youth, and it is only with "the dear-bought experience of time," that one realizes the folly of it. Unable to be satisfied with his station on the island, Robinson schemed how he might escape.
Robinson presents knowledge as bought experience: one has to pay for it by making mistakes and learning along the way. Unsatisfied with his comfortable island life, Robinson is now bent on escaping.
Themes
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
Unable to sleep one night in March, Robinson thought over his life and how ignorant he was at first of the possibility of running into savages on the island. He though of "how infinitely good that Providence is," for protecting him from dangers he didn't even know about.
Looking back on his earlier life, Robinson realizes how ignorant he was. Again, the more Robinson thinks about his life, the more reason he finds to be thankful for God's providence.
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
He then pondered the savages themselves, wondering why God let them live their lives so horribly as cannibals. Robinson thought of how they were able to get to his island by boat, which led him to think that he could probably travel to their land by boat from his island.
Robinson's encounter with the "savages" causes him to come near to questioning God's plan for the world. His thoughts are now completely preoccupied with the prospect of leaving his isolated island.
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Robinson knew that sailing to the "main land" would be dangerous, as he might fall into the hands of savages, but he thought he might be able to find "some Christian ship" that would rescue him. Robinson says he felt powerless against the desire to leave the island and seek the "main land."
Robinson is powerless against his characteristic desire and ambition, in this case to escape his isolation. As earlier, he assumes that any indigenous peoples he might encounter will be "savages."
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Robinson finally fell asleep and dreamed that some savages came to his island preparing to eat one of their captives. The captive escaped and ran to Robinson's "castle," where Robinson took him in and made him his servant. He was excited to have this servant to help guide him to land, but then he woke up and was disappointed to find that it had been a dream.
As will become apparent, this dream is somewhat prophetic, and foreshadows the events of the next chapter. As such, the dream can be seen as an instrument of God's providence, preparing Robinson for what will soon actually happen.
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Nonetheless, Robinson's mind was now set on rescuing one of the savages' captives and making the captive his servant so that he could escape the island as he had planned in his dream. He constantly kept watch for any canoes coming to the island.
Robinson's desire to escape his solitary life on the island outweighs his fear of any "savages." Note how Robinson values his own independence, but thinks it only naturally to turn the savages into his servants.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Robinson debated in his mind whether it was justifiable for him to kill some savages in order to free their prisoner and help his quest of getting off the island. While reluctant to kill anyone, Robinson eventually decided that he had to do this, and eagerly looked for any savages coming to the island. He saw none, though, for a year and a half.
Robinson is deeply conflicted about whether he can justifiably kill people who have done nothing to him. Yet his desire to escape the island overcomes his anxiety at killing others, even "savages."
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon