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MonkeyNotes-Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
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Chapter 2: Bent Upon Seeing the World

Crusoe is moved by his father's words and resolves to think no more of going to sea. The resolution, however, lasts for only a few days, and soon he is determined to run away from home. He tries to persuade his mother to intercede on his behalf with his father, so that he can gain permission to become a sailor. He promises her that he will return and become a dutiful son if he should dislike his first voyage. His mother, like his father, is not convinced, and none of his arguments change his parents' minds. Despite his parents' lack of approval, Crusoe runs away about a year later.

Crusoe goes to Hull, a port in northern England, with a friend who is going to work on his father's ship. Crusoe is easily persuaded to join the ship's crew. The young man departs on his sailing adventure without saying a word to his family. The first voyage is a disaster. No sooner is the ship in the open sea than it is hit by a storm. Crusoe becomes sick and miserable and feels he is being punished for his wickedness in running away from home. He resolves that if he ever reaches the shore, he will never venture out to sea again. Once the storm abates, his friend teases him and Crusoe goes back on his resolution.

On the sixth day another storm, fiercer than the first one, hits, and the ship springs a leak. Fear and guilt overwhelm Crusoe. Then the ship is wrecked and the people are taken off in boats. They successfully reach shore after much labor and proceed to Yarmouth Roads on foot. His friend warns Crusoe about further voyages and tells him to take his first voyage as a sign from heaven.

The Captain is angry when he hears Crusoe's story about running away and compares him to the prophet, Jonah from the Old Testament, who was punished at sea because he disobeyed God's commands. Ignoring the warnings of his friend and the captain, the obstinate Crusoe is still determined to be a sailor and refuses to return home. Instead, with the little money he has, Crusoe travels to London and begins to look for another adventure.


Notes

In this chapter, the young Crusoe is pictured as a vacillating character. He is initially moved by his father's warnings and promises never to become a sailor. However, the temptation of the sea is much stronger than his father's authority. He runs away, against his father's commands, and sets out on a sea voyage with a friend. When he grows sick and miserable at sea, he repents his defiance and resolves to give up his life as a sailor. His resolution, however, is short-lived. This vacillation will continue throughout the first part of the novel. Every time disaster strikes, guilt and fear overcome Crusoe; however, when the disaster passes, Crusoe forgets his resolutions.

Defoe builds upon the theme that it is Crusoe's sin of disobedience that causes all the trauma in his life. The Captain's comparison of Crusoe with Jonah is appropriate, for both men disobey and run away. Both are also punished at sea, Jonah by being thrown overboard and Crusoe by being in a shipwreck. Jonah, however, repents of his sins, begs God for forgiveness, and regains holy favor. As a result, Defoe foreshadows that Crusoe will follow a similar course.

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