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The Swiss Family Robinson

By: Johann David Wyss

A beautiful story about survival, the Robinson family shows that one does not have to have the usual comforts of life in order to be comfortable and happy. It is also a story about family relations. The book showcases a family of six that has to start all over without the basic amenities that make life easier in the eyes of society. The idea of being in an island with no human neighbors is daunting to say the least. The family was shipwrecked and everyone else on the ship perished when they deserted the ship. When the storm finally abated, they figured out a way to shore and immediately tackled the most urgent needs like food and shelter for the night. The senior Robinson and Franz, the eldest son, explored the island and found that it was well endowed with food and animals that could be killed for meat. On further exploration, they discovered better shelter and even a salt supply. They had supplies and even wax from which they made candles. They made many more amazing discoveries and got quite comfortable on the island which was hither to uninhabited. Later, they found an English girl, Jenny, who had been stranded on a different island for three years. But how did she get there and survive so long? This book tells an endearing survival story and highlights the joys of close family bonds.

The novel opens with the family in the hold of a sailing ship, weathering a great storm. The ship's crew evacuate without them, and William and Elizabeth and their four children (Fritz, Ernest, Jack and Franz) are left to survive alone. As the ship tosses about, the father – William – prays that God will spare them.

 

The ship survives the night and the family finds themselves within sight of a tropical desert island. The next morning, they decide to get to the island they can see beyond the reef. With much effort, they construct a vessel out of tubs. After they fill the tubs with food and ammunition and all other articles of value they can safely carry, they row toward the island. Two dogs from the ship named Turk and Juno swim beside them. The ship's cargo of livestock (including a cow, a donkey, two goats, six sheep, a ram, a pig, chickens, ducks, geese, and pigeons), guns and powder, carpentry tools, books, a disassembled pinnace and provisions have survived.

 

Upon reaching the island, the family set up a makeshift camp. William knows that they must prepare for a long time on the island and his thoughts are as much on provisions for the future as for their immediate wants. William and his oldest son Fritz spend the next day exploring the island.

Book Details

Language

English

Original Language

German

Published In

1812

Author

Wyss has been described as an author whose style was "firmly Christian and moral in tone". There are also many underlying tones of Christianity throughout the book and in the case of many of the chara...

More about Johann David Wyss

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