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Chapter 10

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 10 of Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe.

Robinson Crusoe | Chapter 10 | Summary

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Summary

Now more than five years into his time on the island, Robinson Crusoe builds a new canoe and digs a canal to move it into the water. He uses the boat only to do more exploration of his island, taking a short voyage around to the other side. On his return, he gets caught between two strong currents and fears he will be swept out to sea. A change of wind and current brings him back to shore, and he is back in his bower by nightfall. In the morning, a voice greets him, saying, "Poor Robin Crusoe! ... Where are you? Where have you been?" This voice is Poll, his parrot. The whole experience deters him from making any more explorations by water, and he devotes his time to improving his skills at pottery and basket weaving.

In his 11th year, Crusoe finally develops a plan to domesticate goats, which is helpful because he is low on gunpowder and can no longer hunt them. He traps three kid goats in a pit and feeds them with corn. He builds a hedge fence for a pen to keep them away from the wild goats, and by the end of the year the three have multiplied to a dozen goats. In the second year, their number increases to 43. The flock provides meat and milk, so Crusoe learns to make butter and cheese and is amazed by the bounty of Providence.

Analysis

Even as devoted to maintaining gratitude toward God as Robinson Crusoe has become since his religious awakening, he still has moments of weakness and doubt. In this case, the doubt comes from the launch of Crusoe's new, smaller canoe, which he uses to explore other parts of the island not easily accessible by land. He has no immediate plans to use this boat to escape; indeed, he likely could not use such a small vessel, but the ability to sail even short distances gives Crusoe a sense of freedom. Building the boat reveals that Crusoe continues to yearn for adventure and discovery, which are part of his essential nature and only somewhat abated by his faith in God. But Providence has other plans for Crusoe's trip and scares him away from additional sea voyages for a while after his close call with the currents around the island. He is overcome with a new wave of gratitude for his situation, and it seems as if the entire incident took place to remind Crusoe to be grateful for what he has.

The parrot's words of greeting to Crusoe reveal much about Crusoe's state of mind on the island. Crusoe seems to have finally learned to moderate his ambitions. Rather than enclosing a two-mile-square piece of pasture for his goats, which was his initial plan, he builds smaller pens as his herd increases in size. He writes that he is mostly content, but the sad words of the parrot asking him where he has been indicate how he wants someone, anyone, even a trained bird, to miss him, pity him, and wonder where he is.

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