He was also very religious and he devoted much of his life to the Church and to the education of his children. In the eighteenth century, priest and clergymen were some of the most learned men in the country and Johann Wyss was certainly no exception. His detailed knowledge of geography, botany, and wildlife is used to great effect in The Swiss Family Robinson.
Johann Wyss grew up in Bern, a peaceful and prosperous city in Switzerland. He remained in Bern for most of his adult life, apart from a brief stint as a military priest in his twenties, when he travelled around Europe with a Swiss regiment.Writing and telling stories were just a hobby for Johann. His main job was as a pastor in his home town, a job he kept for most of his adult life. In 1803, he retired to his country home in Koeniz, where he grew fruits and kept bees. The Swiss Family Robinson started life as an extended bedtime story that Johann would tell to his four sons. The famous story of Robinson Crusoe, written by Daniel Defoe in 1719, inspired Wyss’s idea of shipwrecked family – but Wyss made sure that there were parents on his island too, to instruct and guide the younger children.
Father – the narrator of the story.
Father is a very knowledgeable man who knows almost everything there is to know about plants and animals they encounter on the island. Although he is sometimes quite strict, he is a loving father and husband. Mother – a patient and kind woman who can make sumptuous meals out of almost any ingredients. On the other version of The Swiss Family Robinson, Mother’s name is Elizabeth. Fritz – the eldest son.
Fritz likes hunting and often helps his father on trips around the island. Ernest – the second son. Although knowledgeable and full of useful information, he can be rather lazy – something that his father always scolds him for. Jack – the third son and “as active as a monkey”. When Fritz leaves for England at the end of the novel, Jack takes over from him as the best hunter on the island.
Franz – the youngest son. Franz is often scared of some of the most dangerous parts of the island life, but grows up to be just as strong and brave as his elder brothers. g.Jenny Montrose – the only girl, apart from mother, in the novel. Fritz discovers her on a nearby island after the family have been living alone for ten years.
Synopsis of the Plot
When the Robinson family are shipwrecked on an uninhabited desert island, they find a new world of adventure and knowledge. As they learn to cope with the many problems of life on the island, they become even closer as a family. First, they must rescue as much from the ship as they can. Here, they make a mistake. They think only of the present and do not take things from the ship that will help them for the future.They do not collect enough salt, evaporated out of the sea water, and, through a long, cold, wet winter, their stored meat goes rotten. They build a tree house in the wrong place and cannot keep warm and dry.
However, they learn this lesson well, and make the necessary changes to their life. They move to a cave house and collect salt, build huts and plant seeds against the privations of the next winter. They are extremely lucky with their island. It seems to have everything for their needs. Over time, they discover bamboo, plants which make paper and cloth, buffaloes, sweet potatoes and salt for preserving their food.They even find pearl-bearing oysters which they will eventually make them rich. They only thing they don’t discover is another living soul – until, that is, the eldest son goes exploring and finds another shipwrecked person on a small island nearby.
Jenny was on her way to meet her father when her ship went down. But she knows her father will be searching for her and, sure enough, a ship eventually appears. Jenny and Fritz leave the island, but the rest of the family decide to stay.
Values Family – the family always help each other in times of danger.They are always praying together especially during Sabbath Days. Mother and Father make sure that their sons always get the right values and lessons.
Home – being apart from their real home, the family treated the island as their true home. Nature – the family learned to live with nature. They discover different fruits and medicinal herbs and they catch different animals for food. They made a large tree their home. They even made a monkey as their pet.
This novel is actually a journal of the father in the story about the adventures of his family.
He started his journal from the day of the storm until Fritz left the island. For me, this novel is the perfect one for children who like adventures. It’s like an explorer’s handbook and field encyclopedia. It is full of information and techniques in times of danger. This novel also gives not only tips in survival but also values and lessons like praying every Sabbath Day, being lazy will lead you to nothing, etc. This novel shows that in every problem and struggles don’t ever lose hope. Instead, let’s just accept our challenges and let’s enjoy everything God gave us whether it is good or bad.
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