Robinson Crusoe

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Robinson Crusoe Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The Portugese captain bought Robinson's small boat from him. He offered to buy Xury, as well, but Robinson was hesitant to give up Xury's liberty. The captain promised to free Xury in ten years, provided that he would convert to Christianity, and Robinson agreed.
Again, Robinson values his own individual liberty, but not that of others, as he sells away Xury. He agrees to do this in part because Xury is not Christian, and the captain promises to convert him.
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Robinson had a safe voyage to Brazil and the Portuguese captain gave him money for some of his cargo. Robinson lived for some time on a sugar plantation and, seeing how profitable it was, decided to go into the business himself, buying some land.
Newly established in Brazil, Robinson begins to build a comfortable, profitable life as a plantation owner.
Themes
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
Robinson soon found that he needed help working the land and regretted selling Xury to the Portuguese captain, but says that it is no surprise that he made a mistake, as was his habit. He began to be dissatisfied with his new life, as he was approaching the sort of comfortable middle-class existence he could have easily had in England.
Robinson realizes his mistake in selling Xury too late (though he sees the mistake as giving up a helpful laborer rather than seeing anything morally wrong with selling Xury). The more comfortable his new life gets, the more Robinson itches to seek more exciting adventures.
Themes
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
Moreover, Robinson was lonely. His only friend was Wells, a man of English descent who owned a neighboring plantation. He thought that his life was like being stranded on an island. He cautions the reader not to compare one's life to worse situations, or else fate may very well put one in that worse situation. This was the case for Robinson, as he soon would find himself actually alone on an island.
Robinson now experiences some of the loneliness that comes with extreme individualism. Looking back on his own story, he knows that this was nothing compared to the isolation he would later endure, and he tries to offer the reader advice based on his experiences.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
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The kind Portuguese captain offered to have some of Robinson's money in England sent to Lisbon, so that he could then bring it to Robinson in Brazil on his next voyage. Robinson eagerly agreed. The captain kept his word and returned with Robinson's money, as well as some farming tools and a servant. Robinson used his new money to buy another European servant and "a Negro slave."
Despite the fact that he recently experienced life as a prisoner and slave and was desperate to reclaim his personal liberty, Robinson has no qualms in hiring servants and buying an African slave.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Robinson had some success growing tobacco on his plantation, but says that this moderate success made him overly ambitious. Just as he felt compelled to break away from his parents, he now felt a need to rise beyond this new comfortable existence and try to grow his plantation beyond what was naturally feasible.
A small amount of success only makes Robinson ambitious for more, just as he felt the need to leave his comfortable life in England or to go on another voyage to Guinea after having one successful trip.
Themes
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
While in Brazil, Robinson spoke with some locals and other plantation owners and told them the story of his travels along the coast of Africa. Some of them made a proposal to him, suggesting that he join a voyage to Africa to bring back slaves to work on their plantations. Robinsons says that he "was born to be my own destroyer," and thus accepted the offer.
Robinson again has no qualms in participating in the slave trade, despite how highly he values his own individual liberty. Looking back on his life, Robinson realizes with hindsight all of his mistakes, and how he acted unwittingly as his own "destroyer."
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Before leaving, Robinson arranged for people to look over his plantation and wrote a will, making the kind Portuguese captain his heir. Robinson departed on this new voyage on September 1st, 1659, the same ill-fated day on which he had departed on the failed voyage from Hull to London.
The coincidence of the dates foreshadows the bad outcome of this trip, and can be seen as proof of providence dictating the seemingly random events of Robinson's life.
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
About twelve days into the voyage, the ship encountered a hurricane and Robinson was sure that the ship would be sunk. The captain of the ship from Brazil wanted to return to Brazil, because the ship was damaged in the storm, but Robinson suggested that they try to find help on an English island and continue with the trip.
Robinson's ambition prevents him from making the safer decision to go back to Brazil and makes him want to continue the trip, a mistake that will change his life drastically.
Themes
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
After setting off again, the ship encountered another large storm that drove them off-course. A sailor spotted land, but no one knew what land this was or where they were. Robinson and some others attempted to escape the ship on a smaller boat, which they tried to row to shore, though they were in danger of being dashed upon the rocks on the dangerous shore.
On the sea, Robinson and his shipmates are subject to the whims of the unknown and unpredictable ocean. After devoting himself to Christianity, Robinson will later look back upon such natural disasters as this as instruments of providence, the divine plan of God.
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon
A humongous wave rose up before them and toppled their boat. Thrown into the violent sea, Robinson tried to hold his breath as waves drove him onto the shore. A wave slammed Robinson against a rock, nearly killing him. Robinson was finally able to climb ashore and get himself onto dry, safe land out of the reach of the violent ocean and thanked God for saving his life.
Robinson is miraculously saved and thanks God, though this religious thinking is short-lived.
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Robinson says he never saw his shipmates after this and assumes they drowned. After thanking God for being saved from the ocean, Robinson looked around him and realized that he was now in a dire situation, stranded on an apparently uninhabited island with nothing but a knife, some tobacco, and a pipe. He climbed up into a tree and slept there that night.
Robinson now finds himself completely isolated, stranded in the wilderness of a completely strange, unknown place.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon