15. "I believe the Reader of this will not think strange."
"I believe the Reader of this will not think strange." through ".I knew not whither" (pages 128-140)
While cutting wood one day, Crusoe is startled to see a pair of eyes in the brush. They are the eyes of "a most monstrous frightful old He-goat" who is dying in a cave behind the brush. Crusoe returns to this grotto the next day and establishes it as his powder magazine.
In the winter of his twenty-third year, Crusoe spies "savages" have been, not on the opposite side of the island as before, but on "his" side. For a long time he remains hidden away in his grotto; at length, however, he emerges to find "nine naked Savages" sitting around a fire. Crusoe observes how the natives always come with "the Current of the Ebb"-they are dependent upon the vicissitudes of the ocean, and this realization brings some comfort to the castaway. Finding further evidence of the "savages"' cannibalistic ways, Crusoe again falls into a "murthering Humour," until he realizes that to give into the temptation to kill the "savages" would make him a murderer, too.
In May of his twenty-fourth year, Crusoe watches a shipwreck take place. The wreck reinforces Crusoe's sense of gratitude to divine providence, thanksgiving that "of two Ships Companies who were now cast away upon this part of the World, not one Life should be spar'd but mine." Crusoe nevertheless desperately wishes that at least one of the sailors had survived to bring him the comfort of human companionship. Crusoe salvages what supplies he can from the wreck, and, for the next two years, continues to try and think of ways to escape his isolation.
The incident of the anonymous eyes which occurs near the beginning of this section demonstrates Defoe's mastery of suspense as a narrative technique. Readers cannot help but wonder if the eyes belong to one of the "savages" about whom Crusoe has spent so much time reflecting and worrying, and even plotting to kill. That the eyes turn out not to in no way diminishes the effect of the incident: not only does it briefly heighten the tension of the story but also it further, subconsciously prepares the reader for the introduction of other human characters into the tale, a development that will relieve the narrative tension here intensified. That tension is, of course, only further intensified when Crusoe sees the nine natives around the fire near his grotto. Note how Crusoe's observations of the "savages" reinforces his dehumanization of them: although the natives are "stark naked," Crusoe cannot determine "whether they were Men or Women." Notice also how in this section, Crusoe seems to regress from-only to once more be restored to-the previous section's spirit of relative tolerance toward the savages: e.g., "I was so filled with Indignation at the Sight [of the evidence of cannibalism] that I began now to premeditate the Destruction of the next [native] that I saw." Again, this dehumanization of native populations can be read as merely characteristic of Defoe's cultural context-but readers should also question the extent to which Defoe may be reinforcing such stereotypes in order to challenge them. (Additionally, Crusoe's wavering away from and toward tolerance may simply reflect the psychological reality of human beings, who struggle to maintain firm resolutions over the course of a lifetime.) Of additional note is Crusoe's rather interesting conjecture about the men of the new shipwreck-that, in desperate straits, "they might. think of starving, and of being in a Condition to eat one another." This "Conjecture at best" may nevertheless show a new capacity for empathy with the "savage" that Crusoe did not heretofore possess, and of which he may not even yet be fully aware.
The grotto in which Crusoe discovers the goat serves to reinforce the castaway's (false?) sense of security-"I fancy'd my self now like one of the ancient Giants, which are said to live in Caves."-but it also serves as one example of how a "relationship" of sorts has come to exist between Crusoe and the island over the past two decades plus. Crusoe is not only acted upon by his environment; he acts upon it in turn, as readers have already seen with his primary dwelling and his "country house" and, in this section, the various parrots he has trained to call his name, who "may be alive there still, calling after Poor Robinson Crusoe to this day." The highlighting of some ways in which Crusoe is not only shaped by but also shapes his environment again bring to mind the biblical precedent of Adam, who is cast out of Paradise in order to till the soil for his bread. In his experience upon the island, Crusoe is to some degree recapitulating human history.