Why didn't Crusoe work on Friday?
Not a ripple, Not a single weave breaks the calm of the ocean. The
beach is the colour of gold. A slight breeze gently caresses the hair of
the single man on the beach. He stares at the horizon with squinting
eyes. It is early morning, the sky begins to turn into a hue of colours..
So, dawns another day for Robinson Crusoe, an Englishman stranded on
a tropical island in the Caribbean ocean. "Alone alone, all alone/Alone
on a wide, wide sea" as Coleridge's Ancient Mariner had cried.
Yet during all the years that the sun rises and sets for him on the
island, Crusoe's eye never catches the beauty of the blue waters, he
does not feel the softness of the wind, nor does he marvel at the
colours of the sky at sunrise. If he looks at the sea it is to see if a
ship or the cannibals are in sight. If he notices the wind it is to
discern the direction of the flow of air, and the rising of the sun,
merely means he can cut another notch on his large square post.
Thus his attitude towards Friday. Totally unsentimental, and
extremely practical, Crusoe, who makes his own civilization on the
deserted island, and survives where a more passionate, more imaginative
man would have failed, does not work on Friday his relationship with the
cannibal remains strictly, as that of one between master and slave.
This is no surprise because it is reality, fact, and substance that
dominate Crusoe's mind. "I was born in the year 1632 in the city of York
of a good family", are his opening words. Nothing could have been
plainer, more matter of fact, than such a beginning.
Hailing from a middle-class back-ground, and imbued with what Crusoe
senior calls the "blessings (of) the middle station of life"-
"temperance, moderation, quietness and health", it is only natural that
Crusoe junior should be immensely cautious, and solidly matter-of-fact
in his outlook on life. Thus on the desert island, minus civilization,
its comforts and its sanctions Crusoe does not turn to Friday in search
of sexual fulfilment.
The secret behind his celibacy is his practical temperament.
Practical to the very core of his being, when he lands on the island,
after a short survey, in which he impersonally comments on noticing the
"hats, one cap and no shoes that were not fellows" of the crew, he at
once begins to wonder "what was next to be done".
When "vast great creatures" swim out in the night and surround his
boat, instead of being alarmed, he at once takes his gun and fires at
them. And instead of living on the island as a wild man on nuts and
grapes and goats milk, he conquers nature and proceeds to build a life
with almost the same comforts he had known back home.
Filled with that ingenuity which finds expression in mending or
making all sorts of extraordinary devices, he digs the ground for corn
with a wooden spade of his own making, and finding he had no scythe to
harvest the grain he makes one out of a cutlass he had saved from the
He makes his own baskets, his own canoe. Thus even though his pipe
may be a cat's claw, his waistcoats and breeches be made of the skins of
the creatures he had killed - the four-footed ones', as he himself often
observes, he leads a sedate happy life on the island. He is a king with
his own castle, his cannon and his country seat.
A king, however, who is too busy with his religious battles to long
for a queen. As often found in seventeenth century spiritual
autobiographies, Crusoe's religious development appears in several
stages-he journeys from original sin, to a state of physical and mental
suffering, to repentance and ultimate conversion.
His dissatisfaction with the "state wherein God and Nature had placed
him, " which makes him turn his back against the "upper station of low
life" and against "settling to business" is his "original sin".
Yet despite repeated signs and warnings he only gradually awakens to
the need of salvation. When he sees the "perfect green barley" with
tears in his eyes; he begins to reflect seriously on God's providence.
It is then that the seeds of grace begin to stir within his heart and
begin to have their own sprouts. Yet the final stage of his deliverance
comes when, Manoeuvering about the island in his boat he is almost swept
away by currents to certain death. From then on realizing where his
unwillingness to accept his Lot will lead him, he resolves to "lay aside
all thoughts of my deliverance by my boat".
The words "call on me and I will deliver you" now has a new
significance to him, for he now sees in it not deliverance from
captivity, but deliverance of his soul from "the load of guilt that bore
down" on him. Thus to use the allegory of Virginia Woolf (Robinson
Cruseo") he becomes a "Chosen vessel", an "earthenware pot" of the Lord
and till the end of the narration is spiritually at peace.
Crusoe measures everything through the eyes of an economist. He
values the economic factors and devalues the non-economic. Being the
rational practical man he is, he does not dream of the Helens of Troy
when he notices the lack of "society" on his island.
Love plays no part in his life because he sees women as commodities,
to be bought wholesale or retail. Thus "besides other supplies" he
"sends seven women to the men on the island, and reveals in the Further
Adventures that the ugliest of the seven proved to be the best wife of
The episode with Xury further reveals the devaluation of non-economic
factors. Crusoe reveals how the economic man, in his personal
relationships had become ' a precious dry and disagreeable article" (as
was observed by Dickens of Defoe).
Crusoe then, is the kind of man who will always be alone whether he
be in a crowded city or stranded on a desert island. Like Moll Flanders
he is an embodiment of economic individualism. This prevents him from
seeing Friday as a form of sexual relaxation. To him Friday represents
man power a form he can use to expand material production.
Conclusion: Not being imaginative or passionate Crusoe does not work
on Friday. (We welcome your comments on the topic)