How is the Relationship between Crusoe and Friday Portrayed in the Book?
The relationship between Robinson Crusoe and Friday is a rather mixed one. At times the reader is given the impression that Crusoe and Friday have a similar relationship to that of a father and son, but at other times, the impression given is that Crusoe is the Master and that Friday is merely the servant who is to serve his Master for as long as he lives. This colonial master – servant aspect of the relationship is expressed repeatedly in the text, for instance, "I [Crusoe] made him know his Name should be Friday … I likewise taught him to say Master, and then let him know, that was to be my Name" Crusoe never informs Friday of his real name, which displays a certain hierarchy system i.e. Crusoe is the master and he is 'higher' than Friday, who is merely the servant. In that period of time, slaves were named by their colonial masters and this is portrayed well when Crusoe gives Friday his name, without regard for what his real name might be. Friday, however, does not take this master-servant relationship badly, in fact, he welcomes it in an extremely grateful manner and displays behaviour that Crusoe sees as a submission to servitude: "he kneel'd down again, kiss'd the Ground, and laid his Head upon the Ground, and taking me by the Foot, set my Foot upon his Head; this it seems was in token of swearing to be my Slave for ever;" this half of the sentence gives a strong impression of Friday submitting himself to 'eternal slavery' for Crusoe in thanks for saving his life. The first few thoughts that come to Crusoe's mind after Friday's evident submission are not negative, as his first reaction, and thoughts, were: "I took him up, and made much of him, and encourag'd him all I could … he spoke some Words to me, and though I could not understand them, yet I thought they were pleasant to hear" However, this behaviour may be due to mere relief of having another human companion with him, relieving him of the many years in solitude: "for they were the first sound of a Man's Voice, that I had heard, my own excepted, for above Twenty Five Years."
Crusoe, after making sure that the remaining savages are suitably dead, takes Friday almost, but not quite, under his wing: "I carry'd him not to my Castle, but quite away to my Cave, on the farther Part of the Island" He retains his natural fears about being attacked during the night by separating Friday's sleeping quarters away from his own: "I made a little Tent for him in the vacant Place between my two Fortifications … I barr'd it up in the Night, taking in my Ladders too, so that Friday could no way come at me in the inside of my innermost Wall, without making so much Noise in getting over, that it must needs waken me" It is apparent in this sentence that Crusoe does not have one hundred percent trust in Friday, similar to the situation with the usage of a gun. At first, Crusoe allows Friday to believe that the gun is "some wonderful Fund of Death and Destruction" which results in Friday acting very cautiously around the gun: "As for the Gun it self, he would not so much as touch it for several Days after; but would speak to it, and talk to it, … which, as I afterwards learn'd of him, was to desire it not to kill him." This cautious level of slightly low trust supports the colonial master – slave relationship, where the master will not fully trust the slave in his work. The difference is, is that the master will not praise the slave for his work. Crusoe, however, holds quite a good opinion of Friday. Soon after discovering Friday, he describes him using several positive comments: "a comely handsome Fellow, perfectly well made; with straight strong Limbs … tall and well shap'd … He had a very good Countenance, not a fierce and surly Aspect; but seem'd to have something very manly in his Face." Crusoe continues describing Friday, but in a way that he is attempting to convince the reader that he is not what was thought of a typical black person at the time. The black population contributed to most of the slaves owned by many Europeans. Blacks were thought of as lower than animals and were treated adversely by their masters, as if they were mere dirt. Crusoe is trying to convince the reader that Friday is not a part of that population, and is therefore trying to raise Friday's level in the hierarchy of people. "he had all the Sweetness and Softness of an European … 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 Brazilians, and Virginians, and other Natives of America are; but of a bright kind of a dun olive Colour … his Nose small, not flat like the Negroes … Teeth well set, and white as Ivory." Woolly hair was associated with Black people at the time, and is still a characteristic. There is also a subliminal message in the text about his intelligence: "his Forehead very high, and large" During the time that Defoe wrote this story, a strange and obscure 'science' called physiognomy was rather popular. Physiognomy was the study of the facial features in order to measure the personality and intelligence of the person being studied. For instance, deep set eyebrows would signify that the person had a certain darkness or evilness about him, and a large forehead with a receded hairline was seen as a sign of intelligence and wisdom. Here, Crusoe describes Friday as possessing a high and large forehead, which shows that Crusoe believes that Friday is an intelligent man. Blacks were thought of as rather menial creatures at the time; another example of Crusoe attempting to convince the reader that Friday was anything but the typical black of those days.
Friday's behaviour is something very important in this section of the book; he is filled with gratitude for what he perceives as Crusoe's kindness and fatherly care, that, especially in the first few days after their meeting, he finds many chances to thank Crusoe in quite an extravagant way: "When he espy'd me, he came running to me, laying himself down again upon the Ground, withal the possible Signs of an humble thankful Disposition, … At last he lays his Head flat upon the Ground, close to my Foot, and sets my other Foot upon his Head, as he had done before; and after this, made all the signs to me of Subjection, Servitude, and Submission imaginable" The alliteration used in "Subjection, Servitude and Submission" creates something similar to a chant, to show how Friday is swearing to serve Crusoe as long as he lives. His gratefulness is shown in his vivacity and his large amount of energy, as if he would never let Crusoe down. When Crusoe gives him clothes, food, drink and a home, Friday seems to feel as if Crusoe is some sort of god or angel who has come to save him from fate. Crusoe teaches Friday many skills of which he proves to be very dextrous in, "he was the aptest Schollar that ever was, and particularly was so merry, so constantly diligent, and so pleased" Friday's diligence and intelligence is not taken for granted. Crusoe holds quite a pleasant opinion of Friday: "for never Man had a more faithful, loving, sincere Servant, than Friday was to me; without Passions, Sullenness or Designs, perfectly oblig'd and engag'd; his very Affections were ty'd to me, like those of a Child to a Father"
All of this evidence that I have collected from pages 203 to 213, where Crusoe and Friday are building their relationship with each other, supports two main aspects of their relationship; the colonial master – slave/servant relationship where Crusoe teaches Friday to call him Master and is quite authoritarian over who does what; and the father – son relationship where Crusoe holds a pleasant opinion of Friday and takes very good care of him.