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MonkeyNotes-Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
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Chapter 22: My Man Friday

After sleeping, the fugitive approaches Crusoe while he is milking the goats. He once again lays himself on the ground and repeats the earlier gestures to reiterate his total servitude and submission to Crusoe. Crusoe names him Friday and starts teaching him to speak English. When they pass the place where they had buried the dead cannibals, Friday proposes through gestures that they should dig them up and eat them. Crusoe makes his disgust known very strongly. When they approach the shore, they find that all the savages have departed. The beach is strewn with human bones, pieces of human flesh, and dried blood. Crusoe makes Friday gather all the remains and burn them.

Crusoe continues the process of "civilizing" Friday. He gives him clothes and dresses him. He makes his eat cooked meat and salted food. He makes a tent for Friday between his two fortifications; Crusoe wants to make sure that he will be safe in case Friday ever has any evil intentions. Friday, however, proves to be as faithful a companion as any man could wish for. Before long Crusoe trusts him so much that he shows him how the gun works. He also teaches him how to beat and sift the corn and how to bake bread. Together they work the land, fencing off larger areas to plow and cultivate, for there are now two mouths to feed.


Notes

The real colonizing of the native begins. Friday, the name chosen by Crusoe for his servant, acknowledges his subjection, not once but twice, by placing Crusoe's foot on his neck. This is Defoe's attempt to absolve Crusoe of any moral wrong in taking a slave. In typical British fashion, Crusoe immediately begins "civilizing" the native (cultural imperialism). The native must learn to speak English and give up his native habits, which Crusoe thinks are "wrong". He is made to dress in white man's clothes and to sleep in a tent. Even in the physical description of Friday, the reader is told that there is "the sweetness and softness of a European" in his face.

There is a clear tone of condescension in the description and treatment of Friday. When Crusoe reflects on how God bestows the same powers of reason, passion, and the capacity for goodness on the savage as on the white man, his thoughts seem superficial. Although he calls Friday his companion, Crusoe obviously treats him as a slave, in a way he would never treat another white man.

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