Robinson Crusoe

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Robinson Crusoe Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One night, Robinson's group encountered two wolves and a bear. The wolves attacked their guide, wounding him before Friday shot and killed one. The other wolf was scared by the gun and fled. Friday then noticed a bear that was minding his own business and walking away from their group. Wanting to entertain everyone, he harassed the bear and had it chase him up a tree, where he teased and tricked it before killing it.
Robinson and his group have to deal with the unpredictable forces of nature, from cold weather and snow to wild beasts. The story about the bear is an odd one, in which a man shows his superiority to the animal by teasing it before killing it. The lack of care that the men show to the bear is oddly reminiscent of the lack of care that Robinson and the other Europeans show to the natives, though it is not at all clear that such a parallel is intended by Defoe.
Themes
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The group journeyed on and encountered many more wolves, which they shot at to scare away. They came across the corpses of two men eaten by wolves and soon found themselves surrounded by hundreds of hungry wolves in a forest. They circled around their horses and shot at the wolves. Robinson ignited a line of gunpowder on the ground that scared many of them away, and the group survived the fight.
The encounter with the wolves is even more dangerous than any run-in with strange wild beasts that Robinson feared so much during his prior journeys. This raises the question of whether Defoe is simply trying to pack more action into his novel or if he is suggesting that Robinson perhaps should have stayed on his island, that this experience is another result of a mistake. Either way, Robinson again uses ingenuity to save the day.
Themes
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Robinson and his fellow travelers finally made it to France and stopped in Toulouse, where the townspeople informed Robinson that his guide was foolish to lead him the way he had, through an area notorious for dangerous wolves. They told Robinson that he was exceedingly lucky to have survived.
Robinson characteristically makes a mistake, trusting a guide who led him by a very dangerous path. Nonetheless, Robinson survived against the odds, perhaps thanks to divine providence.
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
From there, Robinson had an uneventful journey back to England, where he saw the kind widow again. He decided to sell his Brazil plantation and settled in England, taking care of his two nephews. One he "bred up as a gentleman," and the other went to sea as a sailor.
Robinson now settles into a comfortable life in England, the sort of life offered by his parents that he originally ran from. It seems as if providence has taught him his lesson and, in response to his turn to Christianity, rewarded him. His two nephews show the two different paths Robinson himself chose between so long ago: a stable life at home or an adventurous one at sea.
Themes
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
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Though comfortably established in England, Robinson could not help but want to go to sea again. The widow dissuaded him from this for about seven years, during which time Robinson married and had two sons and a daughter. But after his wife died, Robinson decided to join his nephew on a trading ship to the East Indies.
Yet even after all of his dangerous adventures—even after he married and had children—Robinson cannot be content with a comfortable life at home. In fact, his interest in his comfortable life is so meager that he never even gives the name of his wife or his children, and leaves his children to go on more adventures. It is unclear how to interpret Robinson's choices here, as they seem to stand in contrast to his progression over the novel and his realizations on the island. How is it any less of a sin for him to leave his children to go on an adventure than it was for him to refuse to listen to his parent's advice. It seems almost as if Defoe was struggling at the end of the novel with an issue that afflicts many a blockbuster novel or film: the need to create a cohesive narrative being in tension with the desire to create room for a sequel. It is worth noting that Robinson's lack of care for the society in which he finds himself in England does again raise the question of whether he was better off leaving the island and the solitary life he loved.
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Robinson summarizes this journey, during which he revisited his island, where the Spaniards had established a successful colony (with the English mutineers working under them). He learned that they had fended off attacks from various Caribbean natives and left them with supplies and two workmen he brought from England.
Robinson's island, once a wilderness where he had to lead a self-sufficient life all alone, now has its own small society, as it has been turned into a colony. This also suggests that Robinson wouldn't actually have been able to continue to live a solitary life on the island even had he stayed.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Then, Robinson sailed to Brazil, and sent more supplies, animals, and even women on a boat to the island. But he says that all of the details of these events—in addition to the battles between the island colonists and "Carribees"—will be told more fully in a sequel to this account.
Again, Robinson turns his haven of individualism into a fully-fledged, well-populated colony. Unable to stay satisfied with a comfortable, ordinary life, Robinson has plenty more adventures to tell the reader about in a future story.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon