Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe Summary and Analysis of Parts 7-8

Part 7 Summary:

The narrator resumes his quiet steady life. He always thinks upon the goodness of Providence. But he is haunted by dreams of savages. In this time the narrator has thought that upon saving the life of a captive or a savage himself, he might be able to make him his companion and obtain escape from the island. Only now does he realize how lonely he has been. Crusoe waits patiently, and after a year and a half he is rewarded by the appearance of five canoes on shore. Against twenty or thirty men, he wonders how he will fight. He spies two "miserable wretches" being pulled from the boat. As one is beaten and cut open for the feast, the other manages to run away, towards Robinson. He fetches his two guns and goes to save "the creature's" life. He manages to shoot the two men pursuing the prisoner. The prisoner then begins to bow to the narrator and rest his head on his foot. He is amazed that his enemies are dead. Apparently he has never seen a gun. Together they bury the bodies. Robinson gives the man bread, raisins and water, who then falls asleep. He is a good-looking youth, about twenty-six years old, but he does not speak English. Robinson manages to tell the man that his name is Friday, and that he should call the narrator Master. When they go out and reach the graves of the two men, Friday makes signs that they should eat the bodies. Crusoe becomes very angry and leads away the docile Friday. He still hungers for flesh, but the narrator makes him understand that he will be killed if he eats other men. Friday is dressed in his master's image. He becomes a most devoted manservant. The relationship is very loving. Robinson seeks to make Friday civilized with everything from eating habits to religious teachings. He teaches him how to use guns and roast goats. Crusoe is having a wonderful time.

A year goes by in this pleasant way. Friday learns broken English. He manages to tell Robinson that they are near the Caribbean, and that they would need a big boat to get back to his homeland. The narrator begins to teach about the Christian God. Friday does not understand why the Devil cannot be beaten if God is stronger. Robinson makes him understand that all must be given the chance to repent and be pardoned. Explaining this makes Crusoe even more full of faith because he clears up his own ideas. Friday tells him that there are white men living peaceably on his native land. When the weather is clear, Friday rejoices at seeing his homeland in the distance. Robinson worries that he might return there and resume his old habits. Thus he is jealous. But Friday assures him that he only wants to return so that he can teach the others. He says that Crusoe would have to come with him, though, or he would not be able to leave. He cannot even bear for Crusoe to send him to the continent first--they have lived in harmony for three years. Together they manage to build a big boat. Robinson sets the adventure for the post-rain months of November and December.

Part 7 Analysis:

The most significant aspect of this chapter is the manner in which Friday is received by the narrator. Crusoe is still hungry for blood, and he gets his "vengeance" by killing two of the savages. He then proceeds to look upon Friday as a "creature" whom he will care for, giving him water, food, and clothing. The use of this word is somewhat degrading. It certainly indicates that Friday is a person of color. The fact that Robinson does not even try to learn Friday's actual name is testimony to the European supremacy theme that runs through the book. Crusoe has changed in appearance and occupation, but not intrinsically. He grants Friday his name as he would to any kind of pet. Thus Friday becomes, more or less, a little dog who follows Crusoe around. He is dressed in the image of his "master," and becomes a "manservant," willingly yet against his will at the same time, because he understands no English. Saving Friday gives the narrator the chance to play God and be in control of something concrete. He is glorifying his religion and himself by saving a life. Animals can only be "subjects" in a minimal sense. The appearance of Friday will allow Crusoe to live out his role as ruler of the island. He is more than a little power hungry. Even when he learns that inhabited land is not too far away, he goes about preparing for the voyage almost reluctantly. He is jealous when he believes Friday might rather go home than be with him. There is no real evidence of excitement to leave the island. The reader can speculate that this is due to a desire to maintain his solitary post of control over the island and over Friday. Perhaps he is even afraid to rejoin civilization.

In any case, the relationship between the two men is touching. Like Xury who came before, Friday is exceedingly devoted to his master, and very eager to be like him. Robinson is so happy living with Friday because he now has someone whom he can teach; specifically, he teaches religious doctrine. Friday is a justification for slavery--the institution exists so that savages might become good Christians. Ironically, Friday poses difficult questions to his master about why the Devil even exists. It is important to note that Robinson does not fully answer the questions. Comically enough, however, he prides himself after lecturing Friday, because he now feels that his beliefs are more solid than they were. The banishment of Friday's religious beliefs is akin to the colonization theme. We might see Robinson as performing a moral colonization on his dedicated servant. Whether this is good or bad, we cannot say. It is certain, however, that Robinson and Friday have a mutual need for one another.

Part 8 Summary:

Before Friday and Robinson can make their journey, three canoes arrive on the island. Friday panics. Robinson provides him with some rum, and they gather their weapons. Crusoe is not worried; they are "naked, unarmed wretches" who are subservient to him. The savages have prisoners. As Friday and Robinson approach, they are eating the flesh of one. A white-bearded man of European descent is a prisoner. The narrator is horrified and enraged, for he thought those men lived peaceably with Friday's people. Against nineteen men Friday and Crusoe wage battle, Friday always copying the moves of his master. In the chaos, the prisoners are freed. One of them is a Spaniard. The narrator enlists his help in shooting his captors. Together the three of them manage to kill most of the savages. The remaining ones run to two of the canoes and hastily row away, never again to return to the island. In the third canoe another man is founded, bound and gagged. Friday is ecstatic--it is his father. The reunion is joyous, and the narrator is very touched. They give the prisoners bread and water. Friday and Robinson make them some beds. Crusoe is very happy that "his island is now peopled," and he is "rich in its subjects." He considers himself the rightful lord. Talking with the Spaniard, Robinson learns that more of his men are living with the savages, but in peace. The narrator would like to join these Europeans, but he fears being a prisoner in New Spain and being sent to the Inquisition. The Spaniard assures him this would not happen. He is so impressed with Robinson's island that he wants to bring the rest of his men there to live. Everyone works to increase the livestock and crops in preparation. Finally the Spaniard and Friday's father are sent back in the canoe to gather the men.

As Friday and Robinson await their return, they spy another ship close to shore. It appears to be an English boat. Some men row to the island. Three of them are prisoners. The seamen are running about, trying to explore this strange place. Robinson dearly wishes that the Spaniard and Friday's father were here to help fight. While the seamen sleep, Crusoe and Friday approach the prisoners, who see them as God-sent. They learn from one that he is the captain of the ship, and his crew has mutinied. They want to leave him with the first mate and a passenger to perish. Robinson says he will try to save them on two conditions: that they pretend no authority on the island, and that if the battle is won, that they take Friday and himself to England passage-free. It is agreed. They are able to surprise everyone on land, killing some and granting mercy to those who beg for their lives. Crusoe tells the captain of his life on the island. The captain is visibly moved. Next they want to recover the ship. On the water they hear shots. With the aid of a binocular-type instrument, they see another small boat of men approaching. The captain says only a few can be trusted; the chief organizer of the mutiny is in the boat. Robinson marshals his "troops," consisting of Friday and the prisoners. They wait to start the battle.

Part 8 Analysis:

The plot becomes tangled at the end of the novel, with many new characters. Why the author waits so long to wrap up Crusoe's time on the island is not clear. We can see this chapter as an extension of Crusoe's imagined world, in which he is a powerful sovereign. Now, however, imagination blurs with reality, for Robinson truly is taking on the role of heroic leader. He does plan the attack on the savages, and the rest of the men listen to him dutifully. Defoe wastes no time in changing the terminology referring to the captured men from "prisoners" to "my people" in the mind of the narrator. A label such as "the Spaniard" becomes "my Spaniard." It is certain that everyone under his gaze is added to his group of subjects, which had previously consisted of Friday and the animals. The narrator states that he is pleased because the island is peopled and because he has "an undoubted right of dominion." This is a rather strange sentiment to express in the line of battle--no fear is seen at all. Robinson does not even really express much concern for the prisoners. Besides providing an account of how he feeds them, Crusoe spends most of his time glorifying his sense of control over people and events. As the number of "subservient" beings increases, his preoccupation with power grows stronger and worse. This does not make him extremely likable, but Defoe means for us to excuse this attitude and attribute it to a hunger for human contact that has gone somewhat haywire.

The excessive need for power demonstrates just how much Robinson's motivations and sense of agency have been altered during his life on the island. Before, we observed great meditations on the will of God, and Crusoe questioned how he was to behave to best act out that will. At this point, there are no real references to what God would want Crusoe to do: the entire battle against the savages takes place with a single reference to a higher power, when the narrator tells Friday to let bullets fly "in the name of God." We cannot be sure how sincere the remark is, but there is a good deal of evidence that lets us assume that Crusoe has forgotten his religious origins in some respects. When he frees the Spaniard and Friday's father, they look upon his as "God-sent." Rather than correct them or view the statement as sacrilegious, Robinson seems to take pleasure in the idea. His absolute authority over the men suggests a mental construction of divinity. Religion is more or less a means of achieving a powerful attitude. Crusoe acts like a leader; therefore the men treat him like one. In spite of this appearance of confidence, Robinson still seems to fear leaving the island because he is scared to fall under the control of someone else. There is more than a little prejudice alive within him. He is not entirely willing to trust the Spaniard because he is Catholic; he fears that the savages on the mainland. will eat him. It is not until an Englishman arrives that the narrator feels comfortable leaving the island and placing himself in the hands of another. The crew who mutinies are essentially white savages; they need to be conquered because they do not heed God.

By far, the most touching moment in the novel is the reunion of Friday and his father. It is the only scene in which affectionate emotions are unrestrained and expressed freely. The tone of the passage, which entails Robinson observing the two men embracing, betrays a bit of wistfulness. Crusoe is observing the reunion/reconciliation that will never be able to take place between his own father and himself. He seems to realize that this is his own fault--the beginning of deeper maturity. Still, Friday does not return with his father. He is devoted to Crusoe above everyone in the world.