This classic novel by Johann Wyss talks about the adventure of a family as they survive a shipwreck on board to Australia. The family settles in an island where they survive amid the challenges brought about by nature and pirates. Narrated in the first person perspective, the story is told by the father who serves as the complete hero who knows everything and would do anything to make his family survive.
The story presents many lessons in life, among which is courage. This is mainly shown in the father’s character, as he teaches his four boys, Fritz, Ernest, Jack and Franz good values, religion, survival, and hard work. The mother, although along with the father is left unnamed, is pictured as a supportive and caring mother. With these characters, the audience perceives the concept of an ideal family amid adversities brought by nature and humans. With heroism of the father and the sons, the family survives in the island, utilizing what nature can offer. Although some savagery is depicted in the text and may be too violent for children, we may excuse the author for writing such because of the setting and situation the characters are in.
The adventures the family encounters are countless. They may even seem unbelievable. Even the setting of the place seems too extraordinary in that one can find a lot of things in it, packed together as if to offer everything the family needs. There they found sugar cane, fruit trees, whales, potato, cotton, and rubber. Another thing that seems unbelievable is the ability of the characters, especially of the father to do almost everything: taming ostriches, surviving attack by bears, growing fruit trees, and a lot more. It tells us of a Renaissance father who is all-knowing and God-fearing, values attuned with the time the story was written.
Looking closely at it, we may find that the author is trying to mimic some stories in the Bible. The father who is wise and skillful can be Wyss’s own imaginary character of Noah, with the latter surviving the flood in his arch and is given chance to start anew with the things in nature. Taking from this perspective, we can see the strong intent of the author to emphasize faith in God and sticking together as one family when facing adversities from outside forces.
Wyss, Johann David. “The Swiss Family Robinson.” NY: Sterling Publishing, 2007.