Chapter 5, suggested answers.

April 10, 2012

1. What features of the site cause Crusoe to build his home where he does?

There’s a level plain that is backed by a steep hill that would prevent anything from attacking in that direction. There is a hollow in the hill in front of which Crusoe can pitch his tent, using the hollow for storage. The plain descends to the seaside and is sheltered from the heat of the sun until just before sunset.

2. How does Crusoe make his home as safe as possible from the beginning?

He makes a fence of sharpened stakes pointing out from his compound and connected by lengths of chain. There is not an opening in the fence; instead, Crusoe climbs in over a ladder, which he pulls over the fence after him at night.

3. What particularly worries Crusoe about lightning?

He fears that it could ignite his ammunition, destroying it all with one strike. To solve this, he separates the powder into 100 parcels and stores them at some distance from each other.

4. How does Crusoe get his first meat?

He stalks a goat and finally gets a shot off by firing from above her. He tries to raise her kid but it won’t eat, so he has to kill it as well.

5. When Crusoe is facing feelings of despair, how is he able to reason his way out of this mood?

He asks himself why he was “singled out to be saved,” implying that he believes there must be some reason behind his remaining alive. He also reminds himself that “evils must be considered with the good that is in them,” proof of which is how well prepared he is to survive.

6. Describe the calendar Crusoe creates to keep track of time.

He erects a large post and carves a notch for each day, making the seventh notch twice as large to keep track of the beginning of a new week. (You might point out the narrative shift that occurs at this point. Defoe draws attention to the fact that he will now take the story “from the beginning and continue in order.” He has finished describing setting and summarizing Crusoe’s mental state; he will now move on to more discreet episodes.

7. Why does Crusoe decide to write down his account of what is happening to him?

He is NOT leaving a record for others who might come after him. Instead, he is his own audience because he believes writing down his thoughts will keep them from “afflicting” his mind. He knows that he will thus be able to find something in his situation for which to be thankful. (Defoe is placing Crusoe in the tradition of Puritans who kept journals for the purpose of examining their consciences and reflecting on the states of their souls.)

8. What improvements does Crusoe make to his cave?

He digs out the loose, sandy rock, first to make storage room and then to create an alternative entrance to his compound.

9. What does Crusoe learn about his – or any person’s – ability to make basic things?

His success at making a table and chair despite never having used tools before makes him realize, “By making the most logical judgments of things, every man may master every mechanical art.” (Such an insight is in keeping with the ideas of a century that came to be called The Age of Reason.)

10. How does Crusoe first react when he realizes barley is growing outside his house?

He thinks that God has miraculously caused this to happen so that he will have food.

11. What does he realize is the real reason the barley sprouted?

He remembers that he shook out a bag of chicken feed and that these sprouts must have come from seed that was still inside. (This causes Crusoe to be less thankful to God, a change that many critics say is indicative of his not yet having had the insight that everything is part of God’s plan. They see his first reaction as evidence of his original egocentricity and his comment that he “should have seen that it was the work of Providence” as the voice of post-insight Crusoe realizing that a more moderate interpretation exists. The mature Crusoe realizes that it was a bit of a miracle that a few seeds survived the rats and he just happened to throw them down in the right place at the right time for them to germinate!)


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