In Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Crusoe works hard to give Friday a "new soul." How and why does he do this? 

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Crusoe is dedicated to giving Friday "a new soul." Crusoe sees Friday, regardless of their time together and the means to ending Crusoe's isolation, as a "savage." This reflects the Europeans' view of the black man as an inferior, which comes hand-in-hand with their acceptance of human bondage or "slavery."

In order for Friday to be seen as acceptable in Crusoe's sight, Friday must be "civilized." This becomes Crusoe's goal as he teaches Friday his ways, based on the norms of civilization from his native England.

Ironically, even while Crusoe has a religious conversion during his serious illness long before Friday arrives, Crusoe is unable to perceive Friday in a "Christian" light: Friday is black and therefore inferior. Crusoe does not consider "charity toward another" as an essential tenet to his own religious concepts. However, "making" Friday a Christian and saving his "soul" become essential elements in Crusoe's mind. Friday's own standards of life have no significance by Crusoe's way of thinkin. What is important is Crusoe's ability to place his own values on his new "companion." This reflects European attitudes toward colonization: the English way is the superior, and therefore, the only way.

Friday becomes Europeanized, accepting English customs and religious concepts.

Based on his upbringing, Crusoe cannot see any worth in Friday's value system. Crusoe believes that by transforming the other man to abide by European standards, he is improving not only his level of civilization, but the condition of his soul. The ways of the English, in Crusoe's mind, are superior to any other in the "civilized" world.

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Robinson Crusoe

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