8. “The rainy Season.”
“The rainy Season.” through “.as will appear by what follows” (pp. 76-84)
Crusoe, having determined the rainy and the dry times of year, begins to plant and harvest grain successfully: “I was made Master of my Business,” he declares. He also gains more mastery over identifying his physical location: he makes a trip to survey the whole island, and even spies other land in the distance, across the open water.
Crusoe continues his extended reflections upon God and the operations of Gods providence. He considers, for example, that he may be far better off on this deserted island than among “Savages; for they are Cannibals, or Men-eaters.” He also notes how, through the local fauna, God has, in the words of the biblical promise, spread a table for him in the wilderness (see Psalm 78:19): “Leaden-hall Market could not have furnishd a Table better than I. and tho my Case was deplorable enough, yet I had great Cause for Thankfulness.”
Crusoe notes the second anniversary of his shipwreck; once more, he observes the day as a holy fast. He reflects that he is actually better off in his island life than he was in his life in civilization. Upon reading Joshua 1:5 in his Bible, he applies it to his own situation and decides that “if I had all the World, and should lose the Favour and Blessing of God, there woud be no Comparison in the Loss.” He is, however, still troubled by the seeming hypocrisy of being grateful for a situation from which he nevertheless desires to be saved!
At length, Crusoes third year upon the Island commences. His days are taken up in his morning worship of God, his hunting with his gun for food, and his preparation of his meals. For only four hours a day is the island heat bearable enough for physical labor; Crusoe spends this limited time improving his dwellings.
Crusoe continues to demonstrate his ability to adapt based on his experiences in this section; for example, he begins to identify the regular, cyclical procession of rainy and dry seasons on the island (note his detailed, monthly calendar), and “to provide for them accordingly.” Readers are again impressed by the castaways flexibility and resiliency; as another example, we can consider his efforts in weaving wicker baskets. Crusoe demonstrates ingenuity and resourcefulness. Not all, however, immediately becomes well with Crusoe. Notice the passage in which he begins to narrow down his islands location: “I could not tell what Part of the World this might be, otherwise than that I know it must be Part of America, and as I concluded by all my Observations, must be near the Spanish Dominions, and perhaps was all Inhabited by Savages.” Thus, even as Crusoe grows more secure in his situation, a certain degree of ambiguity and insecurity remains. (Incidentally, Crusoes comments in this portion about “Savages,” although not dominant in this section, may be Defoes way of subtly and subconsciously preparing readers for the introduction of Friday later in the narrative.)
Ultimately, however, any insecurity Crusoe may feel in this section seems to be put to rest, for the time being, by his professed fervent trust in Providence, “which I began now to own, and to believe, orderd every Thing for the best; I say, I quieted my Mind with this.” Crusoe may be echoing the apostle Pauls statement in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (KJV). Thus, this lesson may be one of the truths the preface told us this narrative was designed to inculcate in its readers. One way in which we see “things working together for good” in Crusoes case is in the “infinite Number of Fowls, of many Kinds” on the island, with which he is able to feed himself. Readers may be reminded of the biblical figure of Adam, the first man, surrounded by all the varieties of living things in Eden (Genesis 1-2). As Adam was master of the primeval earth, so does Crusoe declare himself to be “Master of my Business.” Thus Defoe continues the ironic presentation of Crusoe as a “new Adam,” “trapped” in “Paradise,” declaring himself “Master” even as he acknowledges the extent to which Gods providence ordains and manages the affairs of mortals.
Defoe also may hearken back to the “baptism” Crusoe underwent in his shipwreck when he has his protagonist reflect, around the second anniversary of that calamity, that his life on the island is infinitely preferable to “the wicked, cursed, abominable Life I led all the past Part of my Days.” This jarring proclamation may strike 21st-century readers as unlikely, but we may do well to accept it at face value as a representative statement of early 18th-century English Protestant piety. Again, the preface provides an interpretive key: the “Wisdom of Providence” is posited as the narratives central concern, and here Crusoe decides that divine wisdom has seen fit to make him a “new creation” through the “baptism” of shipwreck. He has, in effect, undergone a new birth through water, in combination with “the Word of God”-that is, the Bible, which Crusoe continues to read regularly, taking Joshua 1:5 virtually as a new motto for himself: “I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (KJV).
8. “The rainy Season.”