Western Lit II Lesson 85 “Why Did He Take the Coins Off the Ship?”

     Robinson Crusoe is a book written by Daniel Dafoe. It follows Crusoe through his adventures, beginning in London when he first decided he wanted to set out to sea, much to his family’s chagrin. He left anyway, only to have a storm nearly capsize his ship; undeterred, Crusoe sets out again on another merchant ship this time he completed his journey successfully. His next trip was overtaken by pirates, a Portuguese man took Crusoe to Brazil where he started a plantation. He then set out on the most important journey in the story, a bad storm blew him of course once again, where he was shipwrecked near Trinidad. After realizing he was the sole survivor of the crash, he set out to explore the island, taking what supplies he wanted and could carry with him. After he established a base camp he went back for more. 

     One of the things Crusoe took was money. At first he decided against it in this passage, saying even a knife was worth all the money on the ship, but he changed his mind:

“I smiled to myself at the sight of this money: “O drug!” said I, aloud, “what art thou good for? Thou art not worth to me—no, not the taking off the ground; one of those knives is worth all this heap; I have no manner of use for thee—e’en remain where thou art, and go to the bottom as a creature whose life is not worth saying.” However, upon second thoughts I took it away; and wrapping all this in a piece of canvas,” Daniel Dafoe, Robinson Crusoe.

There are most likely two reasons Crusoe took the money. The first one being just in case he needed it to purchase his way home on a passing ship, or to deal with anyone who came to the island. He had nothing of value to people in regular society before grabbing the money, and now he had a bargaining chip in case he did encounter someone with whom he could bargain.

     The second reason he might have taken the money, was simply for the event in which he was able to leave the island and return home. Back in England, money was of course still very valuable, and if given the opportunity anyone would take a few coins that no one was alive to miss. Even if they were not useful then, they could help him in the future. Seeing as he already had an established shelter, and since it was his eleventh trip to the ship and he had already carried most of what he wanted back to his shelter, it did him no harm to take the coins. He easily carried them back with him, simply to store until a ship would arrive and he could actually use them to purchase things in England. Just because he could not use them for anything at that moment, does not mean he was not thinking about the future.


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