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The Swiss Family Robinson is a famous adventure novel. It has been made into many comics and films. Written by the Swiss clergyman Johann David Wyss, it is not just an adventure story but also teaches values like self-reliance, determination, familial love, co-operation and wise use of resources, as well as natural sciences, good husbandry and mathematics. Some parts of the novel are quite unrealistic, but that is because it is fictional.
- William Robinson– The head of the Robinson family.
- Elizabeth Robinson– William’s wife and mother to his children.
- Fritz, Ernest, Jack and Franz– William and Elizabeth’s children.
- Jenny– A young Englishwoman who comes to live with the Robinsons.
Shipwreck and Finding the Island
William, Elizabeth and their children had been travelling in a ship when there was a great storm. The other passengers evacuated without them. William’s family was left to survive alone. They survived the storm by waiting in the ship’s hold. The next morning, they decided to go to a tropical desert island they could see beyond the reef. They made a boat out of tubs and after filling them with food, weapons and other valuable things they rowed towards the island. The ship’s cargo had also survived.
The family landed successfully on the island and set up a tent with soft grass spread on the floor for beds. They found a tree in a grove that had gourds on its trunk. They made utensils with them. After some days, Elizabeth told William she wanted them to move to a safer place because their current camp was exposed and very dry and hot. If they built a house up in one of the large trees they would be safe from jackals. She had a tree with a forty-meter diameter trunk in mind for this. When finding out the height of the tree’s branches, the father taught the boys geometry.
Father collected driftwood from the beach, which they used to transport materials. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s garden was producing healthy plants. Father and Fritz travelled to the woods, finding rare plants such as one with waxy fruit from which candles could be made and a tree with rubbery sap they could use to make boots.
For next winter, father decided to create a safe shelter to protect them. Fritz suggested a cave. They did not find a natural cave, so the family carved out their own cave from a rock. They made four rooms, complete with a fireplace, for their new winter home. Father and Jack put up an oil lamp on a bamboo pole for light.
One day, the family’s huts were completely destroyed and their fields trampled and ruined with huge footmarks everywhere. This was caused by an elephant herd. So, the family began to design a new defence to protect their lands from wild animals. They used four strong trees growing in a square as the foundation for their new home so elephants could not destroy it.
Jenny joins the Family
Ten years passed with many adventures and the young boys grew into young men. Their parents were very proud. They called the island New Switzerland. On another island’s shore, Fritz found a rag tied to an albatross’s leg. The rag had a message about an Englishwoman stranded on the ‘smoking rock.’ His father said that ‘smoking rock’ might be a volcano. There were no volcanoes nearby, so the bird must have come from far away. Fritz was determined to do his best to help the sender. He let the albatross fly off with a note that said help was near. He soon successfully rescued the young woman, Jenny Montrose. She was shy at first but then got used to living with the Robinson family.
The Family Spots a Ship
One day they saw a ship on one of the smaller islands. Checking the people through their spyglass, Fritz and his father decided to meet them after cleaning up because did not want the crew to think they were savages. The next day Fritz and his father met the captain and told him about themselves and Jenny. Surprisingly, the captain had been trying to find Jenny because of her father who believed she was still alive. Everyone celebrated this discovery and headed towards New Switzerland. They were amazed by the survivors’ prosperity and health.
Elizabeth and her husband wanted to stay on the island because they had grown used to their life there. Ernest and Jack would stay back too. Fritz wanted to return to England with Jenny, whom he wanted to marry. Franz, the youngest, decided to join Fritz to receive an academic education.
The father had kept a record of all their adventures on the island and handed over the journals to the captain to be published. Then the ship departed.
This story is a fun and adventurous tale about a family who are stranded on a remote island. They use their resourcefulness to make a good life for themselves there. The Robinson family’s drive and intelligence in crafting a new home for themselves inspires all of us to make the best out of every situation. The story also teaches us about the importance of having a strong family bonding.