From the beginning of the novel, Robinson
has an intense desire to go to sea, an urge that stays with him even at the novel's end. Going to sea symbolizes abandoning a life of comfort and ease in search of some greater ambition, whether profit or adventure: the ocean is dangerous, but also holds the promise of immense profit. The sea is also unpredictable and unknowable. As such, it can symbolize the divine forces of providence, to which Robinson surrenders himself. In his various vessels, Robinson's trips are somewhat determined by the capricious waves, currents, and conditions of the sea. And when he is literally thrown into the sea during his shipwreck, his life is completely up to the unpredictable waves that are equally capable of dashing him against the rocks or carrying him safely to shore. Similarly, Robinson's entire fate is up to the capricious "waves" of fortune or providence. Robinson's going to sea is thus representative both of his desire to seek greatness in spite of danger and of his willingness to submit himself to the larger forces of fate and divine providence that determine the course of his life.