Within Crusoe’s story, some of Crusoe’s shelters exist to provide him shelter while others exist for another reason altogether but nonetheless functions as Crusoe’s shelter. The setting of the story allows for the flexibility of overlap between purpose and function in certain shelters while also allowing for purpose and function to be distinct in other shelters. The following is an examination of the purpose and the functions of each of Crusoe’s shelters.
Like most other plants on the island, the purpose of the tree is to produce oxygen from carbon, reduce soil erosion and distil water. Even though trees also commonly provide shelter for animals but the boxthorn does not because its thorns do not make it an ideal habitat for small animals. However, when Crusoe arrives on the island, the tree functions as most secure shelter he can find in his exhaustion. A branch from the tree is also cut off and used as a truncheon for defence.
The Hut of Crates
After Crusoe began salvaging from the ship, he needed a place to store and gather the inventory and at the same time, he also needed proper lodging for the night. At the same time, Crusoe also did not have the time to spend on creating a proper shelter because his first priority was to retrieve items from the ship. The hut of crates made for the best solution to the problem, as it was easy to construct and functioned well to store his inventory while providing him with a roof overhead.
Once Crusoe has finished salvaging from the ship, the makeshift hut no longer sufficed as a shelter. Crusoe needed a shelter that was far more secure and stable than the one he was currently staying in. The intention for the fortification was that it would be a secure shelter that could protect Crusoe from the dangers on the island while providing a view to the sea for any prospective rescuers. The shelter was very well fortified and fulfilled its purpose of providing security and surveillance of the sea. In addition to achieving these objectives, the tedious construction of the fort wall and the carving of the cave also helped him escape from the depression of isolation before he picked up the bible. When Friday and the Spanish crew are introduced into the narrative the fortification also functions as a seal of his authority; the fortification not only demonstrates his survival abilities to others but grants him the authority to choose who is allowed access to shelter and who is not.
The bower was built with the intention of being a pleasure place and a second shelter where Crusoe may enjoy his days away from his fortification. Furthermore the grapes in the valley tended to spoil by the time they reached his first habitation; therefore Crusoe needed a place where he could dry them first before he brought them back to the fortification. The bower serves all these purposes well but also later goes to become Crusoe’s main plantation given the fertile land that it is situated on.
While the purpose of the cave is not entirely clear, given the location of the island, it is likely that the cave was formed as a result of lava flow. Functionally, it became Robinson Crusoe’s refuge from the cannibals. The cave is not formally a shelter of Crusoe’s but does become a place where Crusoe may perform day-to-day activities without the notice of the cannibals.