Wednesday 5 December 2012

Digesting the text

In an effort to approach this task with clarity and understanding, the first approach to the study of Robinson Crusoe's island shelter was to engage with the text. The following chart identifies important excerpts and quotes from the story of Robinson Crusoe, categorized in terms of their significance to the aspects of the shelter.

Knowledge and Skills
  • Not bred to any trade… designed me for the law 
  • Look after his little garden… common drudger of slaves about his house… look after the ship 
  • I proved very dexterous in catching fish
  • Goats on the island…would run away as in a terrible fright… I took this method: I always climbed the rocks first to get above them, and then had frequently a fair mark. 
  • I found now that the seasons of the year might generally be divided, not into summer and winter, as in Europe, but into the rainy seasons and the dry seasons; which were generally thus
  • The rainy season sometimes held longer or shorter as the winds happened to blow
  • As soon as I came to the seashore, I was surpised to see that I had taken up my lot on the worst side of the island, for here indeed the shore was covered with innumerable turtles; whereas, on the other side, I had found but three in a year and half.
  • I was in an island environment every way with the sea, no land to be seen, except some rocks which lay a great way off, and two small islands less than this, which lay about three leagues to the west. I found also that the island I was in was barren, and as I saw good reason to believe, uninhabited, except by wild beasts, of whom, however, I saw none; yet I saw abundance of fowls, but knew not their kinds
  • one part of the year are very violent there
  • presently discovered that there were goats in the island
  • I first laid all the planks or boards upon it that I could get, and having considered well what I most wanted, I first got three of the seamen’s chests, which I had broken open and emptied, and lowered them down upon my raft. The first of these I filled with provisions, viz., bread, rice three Dutch cheeses, five pieces of dried goat’s flesh, which we lived much upon, and a little remainder of European corn… put me upon rummaging for clothes, of which I found enough
  • I took all the men’s clothes that I could find, and a spare fore-top sail, a hammock, and some bedding
  • I found a great hogshead of bread, three large runlets of rum or spirits, and a box of sugar and a barrel of fine flour
  • I got two cables and a hawser on shore, with all the ironwork I could get; and having cut down the sprit-sail-yard, and the mizzen-yard and everything I could to make a large raft… great part of it lost, especially the iron… when the tide was out I got most of the pieces of cable ashore and some of the iron
  • In a word, I had nothing about me but a knife, a tobacco pipe, and a little tobacco in a box.
  • There were two very good fowling-pieces in the great cabin, and two pistols; these I secured first, with some powder-horns, and a small bag of shot, and two old rusty swords… three barrels of powder… two of them dry and good
  • Having found two or three broken oars
  • I found two saws, an axe, and a hammer
  • I found two or three bags full of nails and spikes, a great screw-jack, a dozen or two of hatchet, and above all, that most useful thing called a grindstone…. Two or three iron crows, and two barrels of musket bullets, seven muskets, and another fowling-piece, with some small quantity of powder more; a large bag full of small-shot
  • I found two or three razors, and one pair of large scissors, with some ten or a dozen of good knives and forks
  • I got several things of less value, as in particular, pens, ink, and paper, several parcels in the captain’s, mate’s, gunner’s, and carpenter’s keeping, three or four compasses, some mathematical instruments, dials, perspectives, charts, and books of navigation… found three very good Bibles… some Portuguese books… two or three Popish prayer-books, and several other books
  • I carried both the cats with me; and as for the dog, he jumped out of the ship of himself and swam onshore to me the day after I went on shore… trusty servant to me many years.
  • I found pen, ink, and paper, and I husbanded them to the utmost
  • Get up into a thick bushy tree like a fir, but thorny… I went to the tree and getting up into it… cut me a short stick, like a truncheon, for my defence
  • Seek a proper place for my habitation…There was a hill… rose very steep and high, and which seemed to over-top some other hills, which lay as in a ridge from it, northward.
  • I barricaded myself round with the chests and boards that I had brought on shore, and made a kind of a hut for that night’s lodging
  • I went to work to make me a little tent with the sail and some poles which I cut for that purpose; and into this tent I brought everything that I knew would spoil either with rain or sun; and I piled all the empty chests and casks up in a circle round the tent, to fortify it from any sudden attempt, either from man or beast. When I had done this I blocked up the door of the tent with some boards within, and an empty chest set up on end without; and spreading one of the beds upon the ground, laying my two pistols   just at my head, and my gun at length by me, I went to bed for the first time
  • I soon found the place I was in was not for my settlement,   [particularly because it was upon a low Moorish ground near the sea, and I believed would not be wholesome; and more particularly because there was no fresh water near it.
  • I consulted several things in my situation… First, health and fresh water… Secondly, shelter from the heat of the sun. Thirdly security from the ravenous creatures, whether men or beasts. Fourthly a view to the sea, that if God sent any ship in sight I might not lose any advantage for my deliverance
  • I found a little plain on the side of a rising hill, whose front towards this little plain was steep as a houseside, so that nothing could come down upon me from the top; on the side of this rock there was a hollow place, worn a little way in, like the entrance or door of a cave; but there was not really any cave, or way into the rock at all. On the flat of the green, just before this hollow place, I resolved to pitch my tent. This plain was not above an hundred yards broad, and about twice as long, and lay like a green before my door and at the end of it descended irregularly every way down into the low grounds by the seaside. It was on the N.N.W. side of the hill, so that I was sheltered from the heat every day, till it came to a W. and by S. sun, or thereabouts, which in those countries is near the setting.
  • Before I set up my tent, I drew a half circle before the hollow place, which took in about ten yards in its semi-diameter from the rock, and twenty yards in its diameter from its beginning and ending. In this half-circle I pitched two rows of strong stakes, driving them into the ground till they stood very firm like piles, the biggest end being out of the ground about five feet and a half and a sharpened on the top. The two rows did not stand about six inches from one another. Then I took the pieces of cable which I had cut in the ship, and laid them in rows one upon another, within the circle, between these two rows of stakes, up to the top, placing other stakes in the inside leaning against them, about two feet and a half high, like a spur to a post; and this fence was so strong, that neither man or beast could get into it, or over it
  • The entrance into this place I made to be not by a door, but by a short ladder to go over the top; which ladder, when I was in, I lifted over after me, and so I was completely fenced in, and fortified as I thought, from all the world.
  • I made me a large tent… I made double, viz., one smaller tent within, and one larger tent above it, and covered the uppermost with a large tarpaulin, which I had saved among the sails
  • I began to work my way into the rock; and bringing all the earth and stones that I dug down out through my tent, I laid them up within my fence in the nature of a terrace, so that it raised the ground within about a foot and a half; and thus I made me a cave just behind my tent, which served me like a cellar to my house.
  • I found it absolutely necessary to provide a place to make a fire in, and fuel to burn; and what did for that, as also how I enlarged my cave
  • The piles or stakes, which were as heavy as I could well lift, were a long time in cutting and preparing in the woods, and more by far in bringing home; so that I spent sometimes two days in cutting and bringing home one of those posts, and a third day in driving it into the ground; for which purpose I got a heavy piece of wood at first, but at last bethought myself of my iron crows, which, however, though I found it, et it made driving those posts or piles very laborious and tedious work.
  • Strong pale of posts and cables; but I might now call it a wall, for I raised a kind of wall up against it of turfs, about two feet thick on the outside, and after some time—I think it was a year and a half—I raised rafters from it leading to the rock, and thatched or covered it with boughs of trees.
  • I set myself to enlarge my cave and works farther into the earth; for it was a loose sandy rock, which yielded easily to the labour… I worked sideways to the right hand into the rock; and then, turning to the right again, worked quite out, and made me a door to come out on the outside of my pale or fortification. This gave me not only egress and regress, as it were a back-way to my tent and to my storehouse, but gave me room to stow my goods.
  • I made me a table and a chair as I observed above, in the first place, and this I did out of the short pieces of boards that I brought on to my raft from the ship… I made large shelves of the breadth of a foot and a half on over another
  • Made me resolve to cut some more stakes, and make me a hedge like this, in a semicircle round my wall (I mean that of my first dwelling), which I did; and placing the trees or stakes in a double row, at about eight yards distance from my first fence, they grew presently, and were at first a fine cover to my habitation, and afterward served for a defence also.
  • I confess this side of the country was much pleasanter than mine; but yet I had not the least inclination to remove, for as I was fixed in my habitation, it became natural to me.
  • You are to understand that now I had, as I may call it, two plantations in the island; one, my little fortification or tent, with the wall about it, under the rock, with the cave behind me, which by this time, I had enlarged into several apartments or caves, one within another. One of these, which was the driest and largest, and had a door out beyond my wall or fortification, that is to say beyond where my wall joined to the rock, was all filled up with the large earthen pots, of which I have given an account.
  • As for my wall, made, as before, with long stakes or piles, those piles grew all like trees, and were by this time grown so big and spread so very much, that there was not the least appearance to anyone’s view, of any habitation behind them.

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