Cannibals come to Crusoe’s island and make him believe there is a possibility of confrontation. But in this section of the book Crusoe meets his companion, Friday. He considers this man to be his servant and slave. An odd assumption since it is actually he, Robinson Crusoe, who is the intruder in Friday’s part of the world. This must have something to do with the way certain nations operated in those days and, in some cases, still do.
At any rate, Crusoe begins to teach Friday English and becomes more assured of their friendship.
Crusoe makes another shocking discovery and sets himself on a course of action that leads him to one of the book’s most interesting passages. It is here, in Crusoe’s struggle with his own outrage and his ideas about what makes for civilized behavior, that Defoe begins to turn the novel in a new direction. He is examining the underpinnings of Western civilization. What makes a person civilized? What does the right of self defense really mean? This kind of thinking and questioning is perhaps somewhat lacking in certain countries today. Notice also how religion, for Crusoe, seems to have a moderating, calming influence. He resists using it to justify himself or his actions.
Our lone character, Robinson Crusoe, succeeds in raising his herd of goats and learns to use them for meat, milk and cheese. But his shocking discovery on a beach shakes his foundation and fills him with dread.
Let’s get on with our story, shall we? It’s a good story and reading it is a lot of fun. Difficult, but fun. Defoe’s language is up and down and backward and forward. It makes you think fast. Try picking up the book and reading any part of it out loud and fast. It’s tricky. But it’s a very good way to learn more about how Defoe’s mind worked. Amazing. Are you starting to wonder why Crusoe constantly reminds us of things and says things like: ‘As I told you before,’ or ‘As I said earlier?’
He almost insists that you follow the correct sequence of events, but he skips ahead in order to achieve a much more important goal. He wants you to follow along with his state of mind. That’s why his story-telling language is so twisty and folds back on itself so often. This is certainly one of the most fantastic things about Defoe’s novel. Its obsessive focus on the man’s state of mind sets a precedent that influences almost all of literature following Defoe. It is really this that makes the book so modern.
Robinson Crusoe struggles to harvest his corn, make bread, build a boat and sew some clothes. The efforts he makes are constantly set back by mistakes and errors in judgment. He deals with his lack of expertise in the various arts that he must call upon with a certain amount of humor. Pay attention to how Crusoe constantly monitors his state of mind and is ever willing to discuss his mistakes and to poke fun at himself.