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Reverse Colonialism

I am having a little trouble understanding Robinson Crusoe’s mentality toward his new companion Friday. Before meeting Friday, Crusoe had been stuck on his “island of despair” for more than twenty years. One of his constant wants during this time was for a companion. Once he is given this companion, I was surprised at how quickly he tried to take over his new friend’s life. From the moment he gives him a name, Crusoe refers to Friday as “his man”. I quickly got the sense of slavery here, in the sense that Crusoe seems to view Friday not as a person, but as a ball of clay that it is his responsibility to shape.

I am no expert in colonialism, however I feel as though this situation seems to be a kind of “reverse colonialism”. I only think this because it was Friday who came to Crusoe. Granted, it was not by the design of Friday to end up on that island, but he ends up there and from the moment he is saved, Crusoe attempts to change Friday’s lifestyle to match that of his own. He forces Friday to give up his eating habits, adopt Christianity, and do all the work that he does.

I completely understand that this is just going with the times: anyone who wasnt white was considered to be lower in terms of social status, especially when they were considered savages. My problem with this is that I just assumed Crusoe would be more grateful for his new friend, and not try to force himself into his life. I expected a more conservative approach in attempts to befriend Friday. I am also having a hard time believing that Friday promises to continue these life changes upon his return to his own people. He seems very grateful to Crusoe for saving his life, but I feel like when he is surrounded by his family and friends, he will have more pressure on him to retreat back to his original lifestyle.

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One thought on “Reverse Colonialism

  1. I was confused by Crusoe’s companionship with Friday as well. It was almost like he was longing for a friend, longing for some attention and someone to follow his leadership role, but then treats Friday as more inferior. This was definitely due to the time period, seeing as if you weren’t whiter than white you were treated like a foreigner, like an animal almost. It is very confusing because Crusoe wanted a friend and yet treats Friday like a white person treated slaves of the time.

    ALthough we see Crusoe in this light, I do not think he perceived Friday like this. I think he wanted him to more close and wished he wasn’t black so he could accept him. You would think time spent on the island would bring them closer togetehr but that was not the case.

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