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Crusoe’s Bible

Posted by: Sara Paccione | October 19, 2010 | No Comment |

On the island, Robinson Crusoe reads a Bible to help compensate for the lack of other people to talk to.  He also uses this Bible as a source of advice when it comes to his thoughts and actions during the story.

Eisenstein claims that “printed books are more portable than pulpits, more numerous than priests, and the messages they contain are more easily internalized.”  This statement is true in some ways.  On an island with only one human inhabitant, there are no priests around to interpret the Bible.  Crusoe becomes his own personal priest in this respect.  He must interpret the Bible for himself.  There are several instances throughout the book when Crusoe contemplates what he had read in his Bible, and he often attempts to think about his actions in relation to what he read.  In this sense, Crusoe is not listening to another man’s words or interpretations and following what he is told he must do.  Instead, he conducts his own “research,” internalizes these thoughts, and determines what he must do for himself.

However, words spoken by a priest can also be internalized by listeners.  Sometimes, a priest’s telling of a story allows listeners to notice a different side of the story that they never knew existed.  They can then take these new ideas and apply them to previous knowledge, allowing for a different interpretation of the story than anything they would have originally considered.  In addition to this, the wan in which a priest speaks to his audience might also have an effect on them.  While they would then be following what the priest says instead of their own personal ideas, they can still internalize those powerful spoken words and think more carefully about their own actions in the future.  Crusoe does not have the advantage of listening to any interpretations other than his own, so even though his experience is very internal and personal, it can also be somewhat selfish sometimes.  He can find ways to justify almost anything he wants to.

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