11. "I had now been here so long."
"I had now been here so long." through ".except that of Society" (pp. 97-105)
Crusoe enters his fifth year of exile. The remnants of civilization continue to fall away, one by one, from Robinson Crusoe: his ink, his bread, his clothes. Nonetheless, the castaway at the same time continues to compensate-for example, he makes a cap, suit, and even an umbrella out of dried animal skins. He returns to the digging of the canal; he is successful, "though I was near two Years about it," and his canoe is at last in water. He sets off to circumnavigate the island on November 6th of the sixth year "of my Reign, or my Captivity, which[ever] you please." As he has so often before, however, Crusoe again sails into trouble: the fault is not in the act of sailing itself, but in Crusoe's rashness, which makes him "a warning piece. to all rash and ignorant Pilots." He gets into water that is too deep and is helplessly swept along by strong currents toward the vast open ocean. He seems in danger of never returning to what he now calls his "beloved" island, but at length, the eddies-which Crusoe interprets as agents of God's providence-return him to shore, where he again gives thanks to God for deliverance, as he had six years before. He makes a long march back to his old "Country House," where he sleeps. He awakens to hear a voice calling his name; it is Poll, the parrot he has trained to talk. "I had now," Crusoe concludes, quite understandably, "had enough of rambling to Sea for some time."
In this section, we see, in Crusoe's words, how he "liv'd mighty comfortably, by Mind being entirely composed by resigning to the Will of God, and throwing myself wholly upon the Disposal of his Providence"-the moral which, according to the book's preface, the narrative is designed to impress upon the reader. Interestingly, however, not too many pages have passed before Crusoe calls the benign nature of Providence into question: "[H]ow easy it was for the Providence of God to make the most miserable Condition Mankind could be in worse." Of course, the apparent conflict is resolved when Crusoe returns to the island and, in an unmistakable reenactment of the shipwreck, gives thanks to God for his deliverance. In Defoe's text, Providence may be predominantly didactic in nature, rather than either benign or malevolent. Crusoe interprets the action as proving that he needed to appreciate his island situation more: as he states, "we never see the true State of our Condition, till it is illustrated to us by its Contraries." As Crusoe resembled the Teacher of Ecclesiastes before, so now he may mirror a character from another biblical book of wisdom literature, the suffering Job, who resigns himself to Providence in both prosperity and affliction (see Job 2:10).
The parrot's appearance at the end of this section, coupled with Crusoe's mild lament that he lives "really very happily in all things, except that of Society," may serve to foreshadow the introduction of Friday later in the narrative.
Incidentally, Crusoe's attempts to cling to civilization in the face of encroaching savagery by making an umbrella "earned the early 18th-century English umbrella the nickname, 'Robinson.' Note that Crusoe desired to carry it under his arm, like a proper gentleman" (Joseph Mussulman, "Crusoe's Umbrella," http:www.lewis-clark.org/content/content-article.asp?ArticleID=855; accessed 16 August 2006).