Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Around two o'clock in the afternoon, the Englishmen sought shade from the afternoon heat in some woods where they fell asleep, leaving the three prisoners on the shore. Seeing an opportunity, Robinson went to the prisoners and told them that he could help them. One of the prisoners was astonished and asked whether he was speaking to God, an angel, or a man.
Like Robinson, the prisoner turns to God in his distress. The sailor's religious belief is on full display as he sees Robinson as not just an instrument of God's will but possibly even as an angel or God himself. This might also attest to Robinson's own more religious nature that he could be mistaken in such a way.
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Robinson assured him that he was a man and asked what the prisoners' situation was. The man identified himself as the captain of the ship anchored in the water and said that his crew had mutinied and planned to leave the captain and two of his men (including his mate) to die on this island.
While the English are not cannibals, they too have brought their prisoners to die on this island. In some ways they are not unlike the "savages" Robinson has encountered.
Themes
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Robinson asked if they should try to kill the mutineers or take them prisoner. The captain informed Robinson that there were two villains who couldn't be trusted, but that the others could be taken prisoner. Robinson and the three Englishmen withdrew to the cover of some woods to talk more, so that the other Englishmen wouldn't see them if they woke.
Robinson is quick to help the captain for several possible reasons, whether out of a sense of duty to a fellow Christian, or out of desire for another friend or ally, or because he thinks the captain might be able to help him escape the island.
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Robinson promised to help the captain and his men on two conditions: that they obeyed him while on the island, and that they carried Robinson and Friday to England if they recovered their ship. The captain eagerly agreed and promised that he would keep his word.
Robinson sees an opportunity to get a ship to escape his isolated life on the island, and is thus eager to help the captain.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
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Robinson, the captain, and the two other prisoners attacked the mutineers, killing two. The captain promised to let the others lived if they promise their loyalty to him and pledge their help in recovering the ship for the captain. They agreed and three other sailors, who had been apart from the group returned and submitted to the captain.
Robinson is now gradually amassing a group of allies to help him reclaim the English ship and escape from the island, far from his prior life of complete isolation on the island.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Now that the mutineers were taken care of, Robinson told the captain his story. The captain marveled at it and thought that Robinson was preserved on the island "on purpose to save his [the captain's] life." The captain admired Robinson's "castle" and fortifications.
The chance meeting of Robinson and the captain shows the workings of providence: Robinson has miraculously survived on the island to save the captain, who himself can then rescue Robinson.
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
The captain informed Robinson that there were still 26 mutineers aboard his ship, and therefore that he did not know how to proceed in recovering it. Robinson decided that they should take the boat on the shore and carry it away from the water, empty it of its supplies, and put a hole in it, so any mutineers from the ship could not use it anymore if they came to shore.
After living and surviving by himself for years on the island, Robinson now must rely on the help of allies like the captain in order to return to society.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
The ship fired some guns as a signal to the mutineers who went ashore, but when there was no response, another boat with ten men was sent from the ship to the shore. The captain could see the men on the boat and told Robinson that three of them were honest, while the rest were not. The captain was frightened, but Robinson reassured him and reminded him of his thought that Robinson had been preserved specifically to save him.
Robinson reminds the captain of his belief in divine providence, which gives both of them confidence in facing their dangerous situation.
Themes
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Two of the former mutineers were deemed by the captain to be honest, so Robinson armed them and they joined Robinson, Friday, the captain, and the captain's two men who had been prisoners with them. With this group of seven, Robinson planned to overtake the new boat of ten sailors, who came ashore and started shouting, looking for their lost comrades.
Robinson now has a sizable group of companions with whom he can retake the English ship, something he could not have done relying only on himself.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
When the sailors heard no response, three of them went back into the boat and waited out on the water, while the other seven stayed on land. Now Robinson could not attack the seven on land without the three on the boat going back to the ship for reinforcements. Robinson, however, devised a strategy.
Now that he has companions, Robinson is still able to use the cleverness and resourcefulness he learned from a life of solitude in order to plot his escape.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Robinson sent Friday and the captain's mate onto the shore out of sight of the other English sailors, near a creek. The two then shouted as if they were the sailors' comrades. They kept shouting and retreating into the woods, so that the seven pursued them. Meanwhile the three Englishmen in the boat sailed up into the creek, where Robinson and the rest of his crew surprised them and they surrendered.
Robinson's clever plan relies on the help of his new companions; again, he wouldn't be able to escape the island relying only on himself.
Themes
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
As night approached, the other seven sailors came back to the boat, shocked to find it empty and their companions nowhere to be found. They worried aloud that the island may be enchanted. The captain and Friday then attacked them, and the leader of the group was killed. Robinson and the rest of his group surrounded the mutineers and demanded their surrender, claiming that they had an army of 50 men.
The sailors' fears about the island are reminiscent of Robinson's early fear of the unknown wilderness.
Themes
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon