Lit React ~ Analysis & reactions on works of fiction.

15 Apr 2011

(Novel) Robinson Crusoe by: Daniel Defoe

(Reaction) No God Leaves a Man on an Island by: Teacher Kitty

Since time immemorial people have known Robinson Crusoe's story as that of survival. It has fascinated both the young and old with a seafarer's adventures, of battles against pirates, cannibals, and forces of nature. This story together with many movies has shown man's capacity to survive. Yet why does a man choose to live despite the desperate circumstances that encumber him?

Where reckless dreams take a man

From the beginning Robinson Crusoe had an itch to explore which he could not control. It was this urge to venture forth that brought him first perdition, and then redemption. Robinson remembers his father's frantic attempt to beseech him to stay, he would venture to say to me that if I did take this foolish step, God would not bless me.

One thing that's hard to pacify in youth are dreams. Dreams as many say are for free but not everyone has the courage to take that one vital step to move towards their goal. Robinson took a leap when chance presented the opportunity. without asking God's blessing, or my father's, without any consideration of circumstances or consequence, and in an ill hour, God knows, on the first of September, 1651, I went on board a ship bound for London.

This journey ended with a sunken ship and a discourse from the captain saying as you have made this voyage for a trial, you see what a taste Heaven has given you of what you are to expect if you persist; perhaps this is befallen us on your account, like Jonah in the ship of Tarshish.

Despite numerous advice of avoiding the sea Robinson decided to try his luck again instead of going home like the prodigal son after his misadventures. He would not throw his dreams away. An irresistible reluctance continues to going home; and as I stayed a while, the distress I had been wore off; and as that abated, the little motion I had in my desires to return wore off with it, till at last I quite laid aside the thoughts of it and looked out for a voyage It was this determination that carried him to more travels across the sea.

But where does a man stop at his dreams? When do you know that you have done enough trying? Is it when happiness arrives or until your dreams are irrevocably broken? Dreams can push a man to his limits. He was no longer the idle son who wasn't bred to any trade. His failings and fortunes created in him a heart of a survivor. For me to do wrong that never did right was no great wonder; I had no remedy but to go on He moved forward instead of grumbling about his mistakes.

In a foreign land he established a simple and quiet life with his new plantation and sugarhouse but his dreams of the sea would not leave him be. His dreams were the lifeblood of his decisions and undertakings. I could not be content now but I must go and leave the happy view I had of being rich and thriving man in my new plantation, only to pursue a rash and immoderate desire of rising faster

So though he thought it a folly, he left his thriving plantation to sail again in hopes of bringing home gold and prized slaves. For me to think of such a voyage was the most preposterous thing that ever man in such circumstances could be guilty of.

They had not gone far when they met a storm, making their ship leaky and disabled. However Robinson urged the captain to go further instead of landing back in Brazil. Turning back was never an option for this man.

What was ahead he fought head on but this time at the cost of his crew's lives. After another storm, Robinson found himself swimming for dear life towards the shore and awakens to find himself as the only survivor of the wreck. For years it was his dreams that pushed him forward and it now brought him alone to a desolate island.

Facing catastrophe with faith

More than attesting to man's capacity and will to survive, this novel is more biblical than it seem to be. It's filled with biblical characters, comparisons, and themes. Robinson was likened to Jonah in his first voyage for the captain believed that their ill fate was caused by the new mate. The island where he landed can also be compared to the big fish where Jonah stayed for three nights. Both places were like their burning bush where they came to know God and yield to His ways.

Starting over wasn't new for this man; but for the very first time, he showed gratefulness unto his Maker. I walked about on the shore, lifting up my hands, and my whole being, as I may say wrapped up in the contemplation of my deliverance As he looked at his stranded vessel in comparison to the vast ocean he considered, Lord how was it possible I could get on shore! Awe overcame him as he saw how insignificant he is like his sunken vessel compared to the ocean before him.

Through this act we see that Robinson wasn't filled with his desire to sail again like his usual response against his misadventures. His focus on his dreams halts when his very survival was at risk. Instead of building a canoe right away, he furnished himself with whatever he could salvage from the wreck and built him a fortress.

Soon enough, being preoccupied with his daily tasks made him realize that his initial gratefulness to God ended where it began, the same common sort of joy which seamen generally have after they are got safe ashore from a shipwreck, which they drown all in the next bowl of punch and forget almost as soon as it is over, and all the rest of my life was like that

Although he questioned his previous gratefulness, looking unto God gave a window of hope in the most devastating situations. On a night when he was stricken ill, Robinson felt hopeless for there was no one to aid him in his miserable condition. He cried out his first prayer in many years, Lord be my help, for I am in great distress. In a desperate search for something to ease his pain, he found a cure both for his body and spirit. He chewed on his tobacco as he opened the bible and read, Call on me on the day of trouble, and I will deliver, and thou shalt glorify me. He mused upon these words as it made a great impression upon him. Before he turned in that night, he was moved to do what he has never once done in his life before; Robinson Crusoe knelt down and prayed.

He saw that God was beside him in any and every situation especially in his present lot. It is comforting indeed for a hopeless man to have someone to call to in times of trouble and the reassurance of deliverance. As he recovered from his illness, he wakes with growing faith in God saying, deliverance from sin is a much greater blessing than deliverance from affliction. You will find from this statement that his gratefulness was now real.

Nurturing the well being of his soul was now essential. He started praying, depending on God's daily providence and being encouraged with his words, I will never ever leave thee nor forsake thee. He gave up his dreams and considered his present situation favorable, I might be more happy in this solitary condition than I should have been in a liberty of society and in all the pleasures of the world. Robinson no longer sees himself suitable for the worldly society he was in. He became contented with the little things he had, tilling the soil and roaming his island.

He conversed with God daily whether it was simple thanks giving for his meal or contemplation of his life, if I had all the world and should lose the favor of God, there would be no comparison in the loss? Other than Friday, God was his constant companion in the island. His faith solidified that he even went on teaching his servant about God which the other gladly accepted. He listened with great attention, and received with pleasure the notion of Jesus Christ being sent to redeem us...

His relationship with God brought him to a higher level of maturity. In dealing with the circumstances to come, he thought more about his decisions before acting on them. While walking around the island, the sight of human bones on the shore obviously feasted upon by cannibals horrified Robinson. He found himself contemplating a bloody scheme against the cannibals but later realizes he shouldn't take it to his own hands, I had nothing to do with them; they were national, I ought to leave them to the justice of God. This shows that he has put more value to life and sees himself unfit to judge the savages who had no knowledge of his existence. In the end he resolved to only protect himself instead of attacking them.

He now sees the worth of life like he's never seen before knowing that the ultimate divine being was with him, the power and presence of God was everywhere. A man, animal, tree, soil, and all created existence are no longer just what they are seen but rather a part of God. His views are now in godly standards that even in facing his most desperate fears; he never resolved to take his own life.

It was the value he put to life that could not allow himself or any man to take another human's life due to evil schemes or selfish advance. In a dream that was rather prophetic, he saw a savage in need of help, I showed my ladder, made him go up, and carried him to my cave Even in his subconscious mind, Crusoe was decided to be of help.

He was determined to extend and share the mercy God would show him. Like in his dream, he saved a hunted savage he was later to call Friday. Through this sincere act, he gained a faithful companion and servant who aided him in his daily toil and adventures here onwards. Another is when he earned a captain's loyalty after saving him from his mutineers. It's the event which paved his way out of the island, My dear friend and deliverer says the captain, there's your ship, for she is all yours, and so are we and all that belong to her

Review:

Robinson casually called on God in times of trouble which he resorted to during his sickness in the island. But after being revived from it, he started to seriously ponder on God's words.It was not long after I set seriously to this work but I found my heart more deeply and sincerely affected with the wickedness of my past life The world stopped revolving around him and he acknowledged he needed the sovereign God. Jesus, son of David, Jesus, Thou exalted Prince and Saviour, give me repentance! He found faith more than cure to his illness or wickedness.

I think that faith was the most important ingredient to his survival. It was the reason he chose to go on though he was deserted and desperate. People find the courage to move forward when they have faith in something. Soldiers continue to fight, lovers choose to love, teachers teach, innocent prisoners wait, children dream. All these people push themselves amidst every obstacle because they all believe; whether it's belief in their country, spouse, justice, vocation, or dreams. In Robinson's case, he had faith in God, He could fully make up to me the deficiencies of my solitary state and the want of human society by His presence, and the communications of his grace to my soul, supporting, comforting, and encouraging me to depend upon His Providence here, and hope for His eternal presence hereafter Robinson feels that all his needs are supplied by God and he is therefore complete. He was ready to face anything knowing that God was on his side.

Though the verse was never mentioned in the book, this story reminds me of what Jesus said to his disciples when they were worried, ... seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be given to you as well (Matt 6: 33) It's much like what Robinson did when he let go his previous desires of procuring wealth from travelling across the sea and even the hope of leaving the island.

During his bleakest moment he looked unto God and never looked back. Daily he read the scriptures, prayed and sought divine counsel saying, We had the sure guide to heaven, the Word of God. And as the scripture promised, his fortune improved after focusing on God. More than having a safe passage out of the island, Robinson finds himself a very wealthy man when he arrives in Lisbon. The plantation he left behind had grown so much that his partner lived a prosperous life in just half of the returns. In the end, Robinson received what he had hoped for. He had liberty, great wealth, and trusted friends.

Another theme I want to explore is the value of sowing and reaping. There are a few things I know about this theme. First, you reap the same kind of what you've sown. I remember our grandparents used to tell us that a mango seed will always make a mango tree and yield a mango fruit when we couldn't understand the concept of sowing and reaping. (The wicked man earns deceptive ways but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward, Proverbs 11:18) In his youth, Robinson sowed distraught as he disobeyed wise advices which he reaped in his misfortunes and captivity. But when he sowed trust and goodness to the people around him like in the case of his partner in plantation and Friday, Robinson also reaped trust and goodness. His partner gave him what belongs to him in returns and Friday remained a loyal servant.

Furthermore, Robinson literally sowed in his plantation and reaped a great harvest on his return. This also brings me to my other point which is reaping at a later date than when you sowed. Just like plants, everything he sowed did not yield a harvest until after a certain amount of time passed. It's the same with how people nurture relationships or share blessings. Many times we will find people who greatly need our help like people in the streets or even a friend. More often than not, these people are not capable of returning the favor to us in the same manner but still we choose to help. And we will find that some of these friends esteem us greatly for the help we offer them, friends who later on give us recommendations and advice. When the wheel turns and we find ourselves in need, we will also find that a certain person or event that lifts us out of the mire and reminds us that our harvest has now come. It doesn't necessarily have to come from the exact person but it does return.

Lastly you reap more than what you have sown. He started his plantation with humble beginnings and even as he added more seedlings and workers, he still reaped way more than when he started. He also sowed on Friday's life as he saved him from certain death which his servant returned in many events. Friday kept him safe as they fought cannibals and mutineers and even as they crossed the mountains, he fought wolves and killed a bear for Robinson's safe passage.

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