One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Monday, July 11, 2011

"Crusoe" & Providence

Providence (SOED): The foreknowing and protective care and government of a spiritual power; spec. (a) that of God; (b) that of nature.


Robinson Crusoe (in some sense an Everyman) is constantly turning to Providence to explain his circumstances.

In one instance he resorts to list-making (using the rubrics of Evil and Good) to help himself see the good in Providence (see two examples below):

Evil                                                                Good

I am cast upon a                                              But I am alive;
horrible,                                                           and  not drowned,
desolate island, void                                         as all my ship's
of all hope                                                        company were.
of recovery.

I am singled out                                               But I am singled out,
and separated,                                                 too, from all the ship's crew,
as it were, from all                                           to be spared from death;
the world                                                        and He that miraculously saved
to be miserable.                                               me from death can deliver
                                                                       me from this condition.

In another instance he discovers a few stalks of grain growing (barley and then rice) and initially believes "God had miraculously caused His grain to grow without any help of seed sown, and that it was so directed purely for my sustenance on that wild, miserable place" (Crusoe had earlier labeled the island "The Island of Despair"). Later it occurs to him that he had "shook a bag of chickens' meat out in that place" and that was the probable reason for the grain. Does this make him shake the idea of Providence? For a short while, perhaps, but soon he simply sees that Providence took another, if less fantastic, path: "for it was really the work of Providence to me, that should order or appoint that ten or twelve grains of corn should remain unspoiled, when the rats had destroyed all the rest, as if it had been dropped from heaven."

Barley Pictures, Images and Photos

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