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Chapter 11

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 11 of Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe.

Robinson Crusoe | Chapter 11 | Summary

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Summary

Robinson Crusoe continues to maintain his primary home at the cave, which he calls his "castle," and the bower, which he calls his "country seat." He also has his habitat for the goats and fields for his grain. He sometimes takes short pleasure sails in his canoe but never wanders far from shore.

Going to the boat one day he discovers a single footprint in the sand, which causes him serious anxiety. He considers possible sources for the print, including the devil. He briefly tries to convince himself the footprint is his own, but this proves impossible. He finally decides the source is more likely human, specifically a human native from the mainland. He fears these visitors may have discovered his settlements or his boat or other evidence of his existence. He also fears they may come for him if they have discovered he is there.

Overcome by fear, Crusoe considers destroying everything he has built just to avoid discovery. Eventually, he calms down and common sense prevails as he realizes that in 15 years on the island he has not encountered another human being. He concludes these visitors don't come often or stay long. Instead of destroying his settlements, he devotes his energies to fortifying them and concealing their presence, building yet another wall and setting up several muskets so that he can fire them quickly.

Analysis

When Robinson Crusoe discovers the footprint in the sand, the fear he experiences is all-consuming. He obsesses over the footprint's origin, and it speaks to his religious conviction that he first believes the footprint was made by the devil. In some ways, this theory is more comforting than the obvious reality of the footprint. Crusoe believes in God and believes God will protect him, so this gives him an upper hand in a confrontation with the devil. The idea of a supernatural force making the footprint also introduces the possibility that the devil, not finding what he wanted on the island, might not return. As terrifying as a visit from the devil might be, it seems more favorable to Crusoe than the alternatives. He only abandons this theory after he realizes the devil, if there for Crusoe, would not have arrived so far away from Crusoe's primary camp.

In another attempt to deny what should have been obvious, he theorizes that he made the footprint himself, but he cannot convince himself of this fiction. The sad fact is that Crusoe desperately wants human contact, but he is all too aware that he is much safer without it. He hides indoors for long stretches of time, paralyzed by fear. Only after he meditates on the situation, trusts in God to protect him, and acknowledges that if he is harmed, it is God's will if he is able to resume something resembling normal life. Even as he surrenders any sense of free will in the matter, though, he is haunted by this looming threat. He acknowledges that the fear he feels is potentially more destructive than the threat itself, even as he contemplates destroying his tiny empire in order to remain safe from these unknown invaders.

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