The Swiss Family Robinson

By:J.D Wyss Presented BY:Elena Hill

The Swiss Family Robinson

A Swiss family ends up shipwrecked on a remote, tropical island, causing them to start a new civilization. They encounter odd plants, and even stranger animals. With the help of ingenuity, faith, family, and a firearm, they conquer each day surviving off the land.

Picture: book cover

A little Info!

The Swiss Family Robinson is in first person. The main character, the father, is telling the story (or rather writing about it in his journal).

The author uses characterization to make the father come to life. He talks, acts, and scolds just like anyone would imagine an eighteen hundreds father would. For example in the beginning of the story the father looks around for a means of saving his family. The author writes that seeing his family frozen from terror makes his heart sink. This shows how attached his is to keeping his family alive. Another example of how the author makes the father come alive is when they are deciding who would leave the island. He tells his boys to do whatever makes them happy, as long as they lead useful lives. This shows how the father influences his sons and how he has taught them to behave in society.

The author uses dialogue to express important parts of the story. Even though there is not quoted dialogue, the main character tells us what the conversation sounded like. One example was at the very beginning. Here they did use quotations. Franz comments about how God will help them survive. Fritz, rather rudely, corrects him by saying that they must not settle for what God will do for them and that they must wait for his time. The father compliments on his replies but scolds him for saying it harshly. This introduces us to how the family runs. They believe in respect, hard work and love for one another. In another part of the story Ernest is selfish by using a larger shell for soup than the rest of his family. His brothers, mother and father all burn their fingers on hot soup. Ernest's use of the shell was unfair, so the father had him give it to the dogs. This shows how well the children obey their father, making for a very orderly household. From how we see the father scold his children we can tell that he does it to ensure they get their rightful place in the world.

The conflict is internal because even though they really wanted to get off the island badly, this is their now because they are with their family.


In the exposition we meet the family in their time of crisis. We feel the bond that this 1800's family has with each other and God. They become shipwrecked on a deserted island which was inhabited by unlikely roommates. For example the family encounters lions, penguins, and flamingos on the same island.


The Father/Priest/Husband

The father is the core of this family. Whatever he says, goes. Being a pastor, he and his family's life is based on their religion and their belief in their god. His knowledge about the plants, animals, and land forms on the island is vast. He is loving, caring, strong, proper, and noble. He holds all of the characteristics of a knight.

The wife/mother

Even though she is looked upon as only a woman, she still is determined to work as hard as her family of men. She makes looking after four boys and a husband look easy. Making sure both the animals and the family are fed is her specialty. With strong faith in her husband and more than enough love to go around, she pulls more than her weight in their survival situation.

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The Brothers

The four brothers, Fritz, Ernest, Jack, and Franz, have an uncommon brotherly love. Although the author does not state much about any characters' appearances, we get an idea of their personalities. Fritz, who is fifteen, is very strong-willed, is very mature, and enjoys the outdoors. He also is responsible because when their father is gone he takes care of their family.

Ernest, only two years younger than Fritz, is considered the professor of the family. Though he is usually cocky and sarcastic, he contributes lots of useful information that is used as a necessity to survive.

At ten years old there is Jack. Even though he is considered thoughtless by his father, we perceive him as having ingenuity, and being a great craftsman.

Franz, only eight years old, is very delicate. He makes up for it in his love for adventure and animals. He is always the first to speak for the animals, and to help his mother.

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Rising Action

There were many exciting events in the rising action, such as building and naming Falconhurst. After experiencing problems with jackals at Tentholm, the family searches for a new home. They find a huge tree with dozens of branches where a house could be laid. After making their new-found home cozy, they go out adventuring. After their dog rips a monkey's mother to shreds, they adopt Knips. Later they move to Rockburg, a huge abandoned cave. There they must add new, clean air in order to survive. During their many adventures they encounter rainy seasons, a whale to harvest, penguins, and a cobra. All of their mishaps and victories keep the family strong and thriving.


Later in their adventure, they encounter a shipwrecked girl named Jenny, a daughter of a British officer. After being shipwrecked for so long, the family and Jenny heard the scary, yet promising sound of gunshots from a distant ship. They were hesitant to go meet the ship, for if it contained Malay pirates, their survival would be for nothing. They decide to dress in their finest clothes and bring gifts of peace. They fire off several shots and wait. For several minutes there is no answer then they get a much anticipated reply....

The message or theme

The theme of this book, Home is where your family is, translates throughout history. This makes The Swiss Family Robinson a classic. In our personal life, the theme refers to looking after your family members. In our society, taking care of our community and standing up for each other is imperative. Even though we may not know everyone worldwide, we all share one home. If we want to have a stable loving home, we have to reach out to strangers, even outcasts, in order to make them part of our family. When reading this book, we learn a powerful lesson that we must enforce. If the world is our home, everyone should be considered our family.

The book shows the theme all throughout their journeys. Every time they move to a different area, they feel homesick. Since they have their family, they never had the urge to go back. At the end of the book, two of the children return to their beloved England. The mother, when making her choice, states that as long as her husband and at least two of her sons remain with her she would stay on the island. This is another example of the theme. Since most of her family stayed on the island, she decided that is where her home would be.