Frederick Schumm ENGL3164
Throughout the second half of the book, Defoe has a lot of focus on the native population which he refers to as “savages” because of their social view of cannibalism which he finds deplorable and a risk to his survival. Eventually Robinson is able to teach the rescued native Friday to eat and behave as he does, and to the very end he is a faithful companion.
I find Robinson’s opposing feelings towards bears and wolves somewhat interesting and possibly related to his feelings about the natives’ cannibalism.
Robinson begins by describing the bear as “a heavy clumsy creature” and the wolf as “swift and light”pg246/7-249. He continues to almost be affectionate towards the bear as it does not usually attack people unless provoked, then almost praises them for never stopping until the act of revenge is settled. When Friday eventually kills the bear he seems remorseful as the bear was “only going about his business another way” pg248
The wolf on the other hand is a constant threat, like the natives usually only heard and feared. The wolves descend on their party, are harassed, and eventually have to be battled. When they discover the other travelers and their horses semi-eaten he calls the wolves “ravenous creatures” pg252 In the battle, which he describes as if fighting pirates or natives, the particulars seem to be rather embellished, and the wolves’ ferocity and intelligence exaggerated as if describing a terrible enemy after an epic battle. The wolves are after all an animal following animalistic instincts honed by generations of evolution, and the natives just adhering to generations of social protocol, but Robinson seems to view both as vile and dangerous.
In the end Robinson’s feelings about cannibalism, and his feelings about animals could be slightly linked, but untimely his consciousness despises the cannibalism, and his disdain towards the wolves is more of a nuisance than anything deeper. It is interesting to compare the two, and gain some insight into Robinson’s feelings towards the natural world.