Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe, written by Daniel Defoe, was first publish in 1719.  It is another one of those books that is often required reading in English classes, but apparently none of mine.  Oh, but don't you worry, I was assigned to read the Odyssey three separate times.  Three times.  Somewhere there is an epic failure in English class material coordination.

I assumed That Robinson Crusoe would be a lot like Gary Paulsen's Hatchet only with more primitive tools and for a much longer period of isolation.  I severely misjudged this one.  Since this is such a familiar tale, I don't feel bad typing out the plot spoilers below...if you are one of those people, look away now.

First item: Robinson Crusoe was stranded on the island for nearly 30 years.  During that time he never ran out of gun powder.  Never.  Really?  First he had to fish the barrels of gun powder from the ship wreck out of the ocean and dry them out.  That's pretty lucky in itself.  But using his gun everyday of his island life to kill game to eat and never running out of gun powder....I find that suspicious.

Second item: Brian, from Hatchet, spent several months stranded in the Canadian wilderness.  The stereotypical kid of my generation, chubby, video game playing, my parents are getting a divorce, moody, teenage boy.  He learned quickly to make spears and catch fish and forage for berries in the woods.  I assumed that Crusoe would also find the fish plentiful on his island home.  Or so the hit show Survivor has lead me to believe.  But Crusoe only ate fowl and any goats he could shoot with his rifle.  Really?  You can't whittle yourself a pointy little spear and go snorkeling for tropical fish?

Third item: After 23 years of solitude, except for the parrot he has taught to talk, Robinson Crusoe rescues a cannibal from death.  A cannibal I assume is one step up on the crazy ladder from a volleyball (sorry Wilson).  Instead of taking him in as his new bff, Crusoe names him Friday and takes him as his slave.  After 23 years, was his brain so spongy from lack of use that the only name he can think of is Friday, because that's the day of the week he rescued the lucky sap.  Maybe it just a difference in the times, but if I was forced to talk to myself for 23 years I might not think the first person I meet should now take over all chores, hunting, and once rescued from the island would have to follow me all over the civilized world and give his life for me.

I will give Crusoe credit for keeping his sanity enough to only lose one day in his primitive hatch mark counting method.  Nearly 30 years on the island and he only lost one day.  I try to skip over Tuesday and pretend it never happened practically every week. 

While I really was expecting something more from Robinson Crusoe, all in all it was a decent read.

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