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An editor explains why he is offering us the narrative to read.
Robinson Crusoe was born the youngest of three sons. As Robinson is expected to inherit little, his father encourages him to study law, although he wants to go to sea. When Robinson decides to board a ship to London, a storm almost sinks the ship and Robinson sees it as a sign he should give up sea travel.
In London, a captain invites Crusoe on a voyage. He buys some trinkets with his family's money, sells them abroad, and sets off on another expedition. His ship is overtaken by pirates off the coast of Africa, and Crusoe is enslaved and assigned the task of fishing.
Crusoe sets off on a fishing expedition with two other slaves. He forces the older one to swim to shore and asks the boy, Xury, to accompany and serve him faithfully. They sail away and meet island natives. They board a ship whose captain buys Crusoe’s boat and Xury.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 1–3
Crusoe lands in Brazil and becomes a tobacco planter. Three years later, Crusoe decides to sail to Guinea to buy Black slaves and expand his plantation business.
In the Caribbean, Crusoe's ship is destroyed by a storm and the crew is swept away by an immense wave, but Crusoe makes it to shore alone. He spends his first night on the island.
Crusoe builds a raft with lumber from his wrecked ship and sails to a cove. One day, he finds some money and reflects how it is now worthless to him. That night, a strong wind takes the ship's remains away.
Crusoe builds a dwelling with wooden stakes. He erects a large cross, inscribes the date of his arrival, and starts cutting a notch on it for each passing day. He also begins a journal and keeps watch for passing ships.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 4–7
In the journal entries that Crusoe shares with the reader, he narrates his life on the island. He says he lost track of days of the week and is unable to keep the Sabbath religiously.
In his journal, Crusoe writes he was unable to tame pigeons or manufacture candles, but was able to make bread after discovering some barley. An earthquake almost kills him but does not damage his possessions.
After the earthquake, a hurricane arrives.
Seriously ill, Crusoe hallucinates a man descending from a cloud on a great flame and saying his suffering hasn’t made him repent yet. Crusoe cries over his own ingratitude. He reads a Bible verse about calling on the Lord in times of trouble, sleeps, recovers, and kneels to God in gratitude. Crusoe starts reading the New Testament, regrets his earlier life, and conceives his isolation as a kind of penance.
Crusoe explores the island thoroughly, discovers a beautiful valley, imagines himself as the king of the whole domain, considers making the site his new home, and spends the month building a bower. He discovers sugarcane, grapes, and cats. He celebrates the passing of one year on the island.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 8–12
Crusoe creates a table of the dry and rainy months to guide his farming and teaches himself to make baskets.
Crusoe travels to the western end of the island, sees land in the distance, but is reluctant to explore it for fear of cannibals. He catches a parrot and teaches it to speak, discovers a penguin colony, takes a goat as a pet, continues to read the Bible, and is consoled by a verse saying God will never forsake him.
Thinking of sailing to the mainland, Crusoe tries to turn the ship's boat up but is not strong enough.
Crusoe carves a canoe out of cedar but is unable to move it to shore. He concludes he has everything he needs on his island and feels gratitude. Crusoe is caught in a dangerous current and manages to return to the island. He hears a voice say his name and ask where he has been, and discovers it is his parrot.
Crusoe spends a quiet year on the island. He has a herd of goats. He feels like a king when dining among his animals.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 13–17
Crusoe discovers the print of a man's foot in the sand. He fortifies his home, raises guns around it, and lives two years in fear.
On a far part of the shore, Crusoe finds the beach spread with carnage of humans. He decides to kill the cannibals and save their intended victims, but then changes his mind, thinking he can't judge or kill humans, and that this could trigger an invasion.
Crusoe hears distant gunshot, senses it is from a ship, and builds a fire to notify the seamen. In the morning, he realizes there was a shipwreck and all men are gone. He discovers a drowned boy on the shore, and hauls back loot from the wrecked ship.
One night Crusoe dreams of cannibals arriving on the island to kill a victim, who escapes and runs to Crusoe for protection. Later, Crusoe finds several cannibals on the beach preparing two victims for slaughter. After the first is killed, the second escapes and runs toward Crusoe's hiding place. Crusoe kills his pursuers, and the victim vows devotion to him.
Crusoe names the victim Friday and teaches him.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 18–23
In conversations with Friday, Crusoe learns the cannibals periodically visit the island and infers they are near Trinidad. Crusoe tries to educate Friday in religious matters, and Friday draws similarities between God and his deity but cannot understand the concept of the devil. When Friday says the cannibals have saved the men from the wrecked ship and expresses a wish to return home, the two build a boat and plan to sail to Friday's land.
Several cannibals come to the island carrying three prisoners. Crusoe and Friday attack the cannibals, discover one of the prisoners is Friday's father, and take them to Crusoe's home.
Crusoe increases his agricultural capacity with the two new men.
A boat from an English ship approaches the island with sailors who have mutinied and imprisoned the captain. Crusoe and his friends overwhelm the mutineers and free the captain.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 24–27
The captain presents Crusoe with gifts and offers the mutineers the chance to remain on the island and avoid execution in England. Crusoe boards the ship with his possessions and leaves for England. There, Crusoe discovers that most of his family is dead. He decides to go to Lisbon to seek information about his plantations.
Crusoe learns his Brazilian lands are very profitable. Crusoe resolves to return to England by land.
On their way to England, Crusoe and his group face excessive cold in Spain, where they are forced to stay for weeks, and then they are surrounded by wolves, which they manage to kill.
In England, Crusoe sells his investments in Brazil and earns a fortune, and he gets married. After his wife dies, he heads for the East Indies, revisits his island, and finds a prosperous colony there.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 28–31
Ace your assignments with our guide to Robinson Crusoe!