Recurring themes through time!

Robinson Crusoe is already an amazing book and portrays many symbols and motifs based on food and other topics we discuss in this class. First off, the book itself being written very long ago (in the year 1719), represents the time period very well. Stories of this time were based off of adventure and other desires or ambitions of the time. There was wonder and the world seemed ambiguous to many during this time and this book is an interesting portrayal of that. There are many themes that although are different in ways than current times, they are rather similar—food, counting and measuring, and the symbolism of self-awareness.

            In this first section of the book, we see Crusoe as wanting to be different, wanting and striving to run away from the known. When he saves up 300 pounds by selling toys and other items to sail away (while calculating his approximated miles all the time), this represents saving, measuring and counting. This idea is obviously still present today in an economical sense but also in a personal sense. Every food product purchased from a store has a nutritional label on it with numbers of calories, fat grams, carbohydrates, servings, ingredients, the list goes on. Everything is counted and/or listed in the book, which many people keep food diaries or make a grocery list when they go shop. This significance of food and listing is a necessity or rather, a personal need from all of us in some way. There are many different foods listed or referred to in this book, which provides a historical importance for food.

            When Crusoe shoots the lion and skins it with Xury and then sees the natives on land, of which they are fearful of, they are welcomed with food. Food is the center of social conversation, community and attention in society today. We get together over lunch, dinner, coffee and we are known to offer food to guests when they come over as a comforting gesture. Why is this? Has it always been this way. When I read this I immediately thought of the objectivity of food and its natural impact and importance to society in a way that has never been directly defined. We do not know why we perceive food this way or are comforted by it, other than it keeps us fed and we don’t feel hunger after we eat.

Other than the topic of food in this novel, the idea of self-importance and ‘soul-searching’ is very interesting to read about. Crusoe is a very unique character and his persistence to explore and conquer. The emphasis on materialism is also another major theme in this novel. Crusoe goes from having everything to being stuck on an island with nothing, including no food, which seems to make him grow as a character from what I have gotten to so far. This novel portrays the time period very well and recurring themes in today’s society that have not changed over time. What is it about society that makes culture different, yet relatively similar in all nations. Everything is centered around the identity of food, the idea of self-growth, and counting or measuring (goals, ambitions, food, calories, materials, etc.).


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