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Chapter 13

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 13 of Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe.

Robinson Crusoe | Chapter 13 | Summary



Now having lived 23 years on the island, Robinson Crusoe's menagerie has grown to include a few more parrots and other birds, a few cats, and some pet goats. The dog died after 16 years. While these animals provide some company, he misses human companionship even as he continues to live in fear and dread of meeting the mysterious natives.

While he does not interact with the natives, this is the year he spots a group of them on the shore of the island, which causes him great alarm. After they leave he finds human remains among the ashes of their fire, which confirms they are cannibals. He does not see any more natives for more than a year, but he spends all these days deeply worried about their return.

In May of this same year, he spots a Spanish ship in distress during a storm. The ship founders and he finds no survivors on the wreck, except for a dog. His explorations of the wreckage also yield some fresh supplies of gunpowder, along with a copper pot and brass kettles and a few chests containing shirts, bottles of cordials, and a large quantity of money. He also gets some shoes from two of the sailors who drowned.


Despite all his talk of Christian ideals preventing him from attacking the natives, once Robinson Crusoe sees firsthand what these natives are doing on his island—cooking other humans and eating them—he again considers launching an attack against them. His plans to attack them should they return to the island are primarily driven by fear of them finding and attacking him first, and his true reasoning becomes much clearer as he mulls over the possibility of launching an offensive. Even if he were to defeat one party of natives, another party might come, and another and another. Once he has attacked them, they will know about him and may return in much greater numbers. He feels unprepared for such a counterattack, and he knows if they arrive in large numbers he will be unable to fend them off.

The Spanish ship that crashes on the rocks near the island, therefore, provides Crusoe some relief from his constant worry about the natives by creating a distraction for him. He resumes feeling grateful for having been saved from his own wreck as he realizes two ships have now crashed near his island and he is the sole survivor of both wrecks. It reaffirms his faith that God is taking care of him, but he ignores the fact that God was not taking the same care of the sailors who died. In his last year on the island, he learns that some of the sailors did in fact escape the wreck, but at this point in his story he only knows that he finds no survivors. He once again tells the reader with great exactness how much money he finds on the ship, as well as speculating how much more it must have been carrying, and is careful to store it safely away in his cave even while he remarks at how little use he has for it. Whether this behavior marks Crusoe's inability to leave behind the values with which he was raised or a continuing remote hope that he will someday be rescued and be able to make use of the money is impossible to tell from his narration.

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