Robinson Crusoe Discussion Questions, first half
- Explain the contents and the meaning of the preface in the novel.
The preface in the novel, “Robinson Crusoe,” serves as an introduction to the story and provides the author’s perspective on the purpose and themes of the novel. It also serves to establish the novel’s credibility by presenting it as a true story based on the experiences of a real person.
- Discuss the opening with regards to how it fits or not to the newly emerging novel genre at the time.
The opening of the novel fits well with the emerging novel genre of the time, which often featured stories of adventure and self-discovery. The novel begins with Crusoe’s desire to leave his comfortable home in search of adventure and wealth, which is a common theme in novels of the time.
- What is the middle way; “the middle of the two extremes” as a lifestyle and what, do you think, its significance is within the themes of this novel?
The middle way, as a lifestyle, is a reference to the idea of finding balance and moderation in one’s actions and desires. It is a central theme in the novel, and its significance is that it represents the idea of self-control and discipline.
- Explain how Crusoe reacts and enacts on this “middle way”? How does Crusoe, time and again, submit and revolt to this doctrine.
Crusoe reacts and enacts on this “middle way” by initially submitting to it, but then later revolting against it as he becomes increasingly isolated and desperate on the island. He goes through a process of self-discovery, in which he learns the importance of self-control and discipline, but also the importance of flexibility and adaptability.
- There are lots of numbers and annals and lists in this novel. Give examples to these and discuss its significance both thematically and structurally.
The use of numbers and lists in the novel serves both a thematic and structural purpose. Thematically, it represents Crusoe’s desire for order and control in his life, while structurally, it helps to organize and keep track of the events in the story. Examples include Crusoe’s counting of the years he spent on the island, his inventory of goods and tools, and his record of the weather.
- Why does Crusoe start keeping a journal, what kinds of things does he write in this journal and what, do you think, this symbolizes and signifies in the novel?
Crusoe starts keeping a journal as a way to record his experiences and thoughts on the island. He writes about his daily activities, his struggles, and his reflections on his situation. This journal symbolizes his desire for self-knowledge and understanding, and it serves as a way for him to make sense of his experiences.
- Define and discuss Crusoe’s interactions with Ishmael and Xury.
Crusoe’s interactions with Ishmael and Xury are significant in that they represent his gradual acceptance of the idea of human companionship and the importance of community. He initially sees them as inferior, but eventually comes to see them as valuable companions and friends.
- Explain and discuss Crusoe’s approach to the “Moors.”
Crusoe’s approach to the “Moors” is initially one of fear and mistrust, but he eventually comes to see them as fellow human beings with their own struggles and desires.
- Compare and contrast the Turkish/Moorish captains and European/Portuguese captains/sea-men in the novel.
The Turkish/Moorish captains and European/Portuguese captains/sea-men in the novel are contrasted in terms of their approach to trade and commerce. The Turkish/Moorish captains are seen as ruthless and greedy, while the European/Portuguese captains are seen as more honorable and fair.
- Why does Crusoe resent about Xury?
Crusoe resents Xury because he sees him as a reminder of his past mistakes and failures. He also resents him because he represents a different way of life and culture that Crusoe initially sees as inferior.
- What is the dream that Crusoe sees in the island how does this dream expose his subconscious? How does this dream change him?
The dream that Crusoe sees on the island exposes his subconscious fears and desires. It shows his longing for his past life and his fear of death and isolation. The dream changes him by making him more aware of his own mortality and the importance of living in the present.
Robinson Crusoe Discussion Questions, second half
- What is Crusoe’s reaction to the footprint he sees for the first time on the island?
When Crusoe first sees the footprint on the island, he is initially filled with fear and anxiety. He is worried that there may be other people on the island, and he is concerned about his own safety. However, he also realizes that the footprint could be a sign of hope and a potential way to escape the island. He starts to think about the possibility of finding other people and building a community.
- What kind of people are the ‘cannibals’ Crusoe observes on the island? What does he think of doing to them?
The “cannibals” that Crusoe observes on the island are portrayed as savage and uncivilized. He initially thinks of them as a threat and contemplates on killing them, but eventually comes to understand them as fellow human beings and is able to establish a relationship with them.
- Describe Crusoe’s first encounter with Friday; how he meets him, how he names him and the kinds of things they talk about, etc.
Crusoe’s first encounter with Friday is when he saves him from being killed by the cannibals. He meets him by chance, and he names him Friday because it is the day he meets him. They talk about their respective lives and backgrounds, and Friday helps Crusoe to understand the culture and customs of the island.
- What does Crusoe teach Friday about religion and how does the latter respond?
Crusoe teaches Friday about Christianity and the concept of one true God. Friday is initially skeptical, but he eventually comes to accept it and is baptized by Crusoe.
- How does Crusoe claim possession of the island when he meets other people?
When Crusoe meets other people on the island, he claims possession of it by using his weapons and his superior knowledge of the island. He asserts his authority and dominance over the others, and he is able to control the resources and the people on the island.
- What do the English people who come to the island think about Crusoe? What does this symbolize?
The English people who come to the island view Crusoe as a hero and a leader. They are impressed by his survival skills and his ability to establish a community on the island. This symbolizes Crusoe’s transformation from an individual to a leader and a figure of authority.
- How does his story end; is he rewarded or punished in the end?
Crusoe’s story ends with him being rewarded for his hardships and his ability to survive. He is able to return to England, where he is reunited with his family and is able to live a comfortable life. He is seen as a hero, and his story is widely read and admired. He reflects on his life, being contented and grateful for the lessons and experiences he had. His time on the island helped him to understand the importance of community, humility, and the meaning of human life.