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Chapter 2

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 2 of Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe.

Robinson Crusoe | Chapter 2 | Summary

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Summary

Robinson Crusoe sets out from London on a trip to Africa. The ship's captain does not charge Crusoe for the voyage because he likes his company, so Crusoe is able to make enough money from this trip to set himself up as a merchant trader upon his return. The captain dies shortly after their return, and Crusoe befriends his widow, who keeps Crusoe's money safe when he embarks on his next voyage.

The second voyage to Africa is catastrophic, as the ship is raided by pirates from the Moroccan port of Sallee. The crew is sold into slavery, and the pirates take the ship. The pirates' captain, a Moor, keeps Crusoe as his personal slave. To prevent escape attempts, he charges Crusoe to watch his house while he is at sea and his ship while he is in port. Crusoe dreams of escape during two years of servitude.

However, the pirate enjoys fishing and always takes Crusoe and two other servants with him when he goes. One day while he entertains guests in his home, he sends Crusoe and the two other slaves—a Moor named Ismael and a boy named Xury—out to fish. Crusoe takes this chance to escape by pushing the Moor overboard (although in sight of land and with the knowledge that Ismael is a strong swimmer) and taking Xury into his own service. The two of them sail south along the African coast. When they come to land for fresh water, they encounter fearful wild animals. Crusoe and Xury kill a lion and keep the skin for a blanket.

Analysis

Robinson Crusoe sets off to sea in pursuit of freedom from a life he found stifling in England, so it is ironic that he is captured by pirates and forced into slavery, the ultimate deprivation of freedom. Many of his remarks reflect how he misses the sheer mobility that sailing on a ship provides. He hopes the pirate, his master, will take him along on his sea voyages, partly because such voyages might give him a chance to escape, but he also seems frustrated with being landlocked. He is allowed a great deal of liberty for a slave, left alone to tend his master's home and garden while the pirate is away at sea. Crusoe does not consider the possibility of escaping over land during any of these periods tending the house, either because he lacks assistance or because it is a less practical possibility than seeking freedom by sea.

When Crusoe finally does escape, he immediately obtains a servant of his own: Xury. Crusoe demands the boy swear his loyalty to him. Even though he also promises to make Xury a great man someday, the relationship never has any sort of equality, and Crusoe treats Xury as an inferior. When the two of them encounter a lion on the African shore during a search for fresh water, Crusoe orders Xury to go on shore and kill the creature, perfectly willing to sacrifice the boy's life instead of risking his own.

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