Friday: Or, The Other Island was Tournier’s first published novel and dramatizes the differences between Robinson’s Eurocentric values and those of a native of the archipelago in which he is marooned. Tournier assumed that his readers would be familiar with Daniel Defoe’s classic novel Robinson Crusoe, and he fashioned his work around it. He follows Defoe’s book closely at first but slowly departs from its outline, eventually arriving at a strikingly different conclusion.
As Friday opens, Robinson is having his fortune told by his ship’s captain. Robinson, the captain announces, is an organizer. Organizers are not skeptical and therefore do not realize that their attempts at creating order are illusory. The captain further predicts that after many travails Robinson will be saved by a child. As the captain enlarges upon these comments, their ship runs violently aground. When Robinson awakens, he finds himself alone on an island, and (it is clear to the reader) begins living out in detail the fortune the captain has told to him.
After a period of gloom in which he names his new home the Island of Desolation, Robinson manages to build a rational, even overorganized, life for himself. He has periodic bouts of depression in which he immerses himself in a kind of bog, but he always manages to pull himself out, literally and figuratively. He rechristens the island Speranza (hope).
(The entire section is 543 words.)