& Friday Essay, Research Paper
By definition, a savage is an uncivilized person. Friday would not fit this description because he was civilized. He was a product of the civilization that surrounded him where he came from. His appearance, behaviors, and beliefs were that of all the others in what might be called his tribe. The simple fact that he had religious beliefs is evidence of him being somewhat civilized.
A savage can also be thought of as anyone or anything not European. Clearly Friday was not European, yet his features were not consistent with what would normally be considered “savage”. He is described as having “a very good Countenance, not a fierce and surly Aspect…”, “he had all the Sweetness and Softness of an European in his Countenance too…”, “His Hair was long and black, not curl’d like Wool…”, “The Colour of his Skin was not quite black, but very tawny; and yet not of an ugly yellow nauseous tawny, as the Brasilians, and Virginians, and other Natives of America are…”, and “his Nose small, not flat like the Negroes, a very good mouth, thin Lips, and his fine Teeth well set, and white as Ivory” (Defoe 205).
When the two characters meet, Friday approaches Robinson Crusoe in a very sedate manner, Friday is terrified yet he does not lash out at Robinson Crusoe. He does not seem wild, ferocious or barbaric in any way. He uses sign language at first to communicate, which indicates knowledge of some sort of primitive language. He is quick to learn Robinson Crusoe’s language and is eager to learn more while Robinson Crusoe stays clear of learning Friday’s language.
It is apparent that Friday has religious or spiritual beliefs right from the beginning. When Robinson Crusoe saves Friday from the savages that brought him to the island to devour him, Friday is extremely grateful and he offers himself as an eternal servant to Robinson Crusoe. “At last he lays his Head flat upon the Ground, close to my Foot, and sets my other Foot upon hi shead, as he had done before; after this made all the Signs to me of Subjection, Servitude, and Submission imaginable, to let me know, how he would serve me as long as he liv’d…” (Defoe 206).
After it became evident that Friday was not a threat of any sort, Robinson Crusoe was grateful for his presence. Friday would become a valuable asset for the daily activities of Robinson Crusoe’s habitation. All that Robinson Crusoe had filled his days with before the arrival of Friday had become easier by the hands of two men rather than one. Friday’s ability to work as diligently as he did is an indication of him being civilized.
Along with teaching Friday to speak his language, Robinson Crusoe also made attempts to retrain his eating habits. Friday was a cannibal like those who had brought him to the island in the first place. He enjoyed consuming flesh and Robinson Crusoe made it clear to Friday that this was not acceptable behavior. With reference to the savages that Robinson Crusoe had saved Friday from, “…making signs to me that we should dig them up again, and eat them…” (Defoe 206). “I found Friday had still a hankering Stomach after some of the Flesh, and was still a Cannibal in his nature… I had by some Means let him know, that I would kill him if he offer’d it” (Defoe 208). In time Robinson Crusoe teaches Friday to eat the meat of animals rather than hmans.
When asked about his religious beliefs, Friday at first does not understand but eventually he tells of an “old Benamuckee, that liv’d beyond all” (Defoe 216). After many questions, Robinson Crusoe took it upon himself to teach religion to his newfound friend. “I began to instruct him on the Knowledge of the true God” (Defoe 216). Friday was eager to learn. He asked questions that were not always easy to answer but at the same time he absorbed every word that came out of Robinson Crusoe’s mouth. Friday was a faithful and loyal companion.
Defoe allowed Robinson Crusoe to remain abandoned on this island for many years before Friday appeared. There was a gradual build-up to his arrival and their meeting. Friday’s deliverance from certain death was the beginning of Robinson Crusoe’s preparation for going back home. He was alone on this island without contact with the outside or civilized world for so long that there needed to e some sort of reorientation to civilization. The appearance of Friday was the first stepping stone towards getting reacquainted with other mankind. Robinson Crusoe needed to regain the ability to trust in those who came to the island in order for him to find his way back home.