Robinson Crusoe: Novel Summary: 17. "After I had been two or three Days."

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17. "After I had been two or three Days."

"After I had been two or three Days." through ".every Part in its order" (pages 152-160)
Crusoe trains Friday in doing his work for him and in the tenets of Christianity. Crusoe also learns from Friday more about the habits of the other "Savages" in visiting the island. From this knowledge he gleans more about his location-"these were the Caribbees, which our Maps place on the Part of America"-and he begins to formulate plans for leaving: "from this Time I entertain'd some Hopes, that one Time or other, I might find an Opportunity to make my Escape from this Place; and that this poor Savage might be a Means to help me to do it."
Analysis
This section of the narrative begins with Crusoe's continuing efforts to "tame" the "savage," as the castaway "cures" (not Defoe's word) Friday of his cannibalistic appetites. As noted above, Crusoe has not only been shaped by but has shaped his environment; now, Crusoe is similarly shaping Friday-to continue our exploration of the narrative's connections with Genesis, we might even say that Crusoe is re-creating Friday in his own image. Thus, Crusoe takes on a god-like quality as well as an Adamic aspect. (Note, for instance, how Friday is-as Crusoe interprets the act-praying to Crusoe to spare his life.) In the colonial era, of course, the colonial powers explicitly and implicitly exercised this god-like power in many ways, as, for example, in this section Crusoe teaches Friday about the Christian religion. Another way was the introduction of fire arms into the new world, a development also recapitulated in microcosm in the relationship between Crusoe and Friday.
Perhaps most arresting to a modern reader's mind, however, is the fact that Crusoe, for all intents and purposes, enslaves Friday: "in a little Time Friday was able to do all the Work for me. he would work the harder for me, if I would tell him what to do. This was the pleasantest Year of all the Life I led in this Place." The comments are telling. Crusoe does not, to his credit, cease working altogether; yet he clearly takes delight in the fact that Friday can, not help him, but serve him-a key difference. (Note, for example, the comment quoted above about how Friday can be "a Means" to help Crusoe leave the island; Crusoe can be seen as valuing Friday more for his utility to him than as a person in his own right-an attitude consistent with Crusoe's, and Defoe's, historical and cultural setting). Thus, the text again offers evidence that Crusoe is still very much the slaver he was in Brazil before his exile began. Typical of the slave-owner mentality, Crusoe declares about Friday, "I believe he lov'd me more than it was possible for him ever to love any Thing before." Defoe offers no insight into Friday's mind, as to whether this presumed affection is, in fact, present.
Interestingly, a 1975 film entitled Man Friday does offer just such insight, retelling the story from the "savage's" point of view: "In the 1975 film Crusoe (Peter O'Toole) comes across as an insufferable fool in comparison to the noble Friday (Richard Roundtree). The fact that actor Roundtree, in actuality, is an African-American is an obvious ploy to shift the novel's subtext of 18th-century race relations to a more contemporary context" (John C. Tibbets, The Encyclopedia of Novels into Film, Facts on File, Inc., 1998, p. 235).

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