One key similarity between Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe and Prosper Mérimée’s short story “Mateo Falcone” involves fathers and sons. That is, both narratives seem impelled by the tensions that develop when the sons deviate from their fathers’ expectations.
In Robinson Crusoe, Crusoe’s dad wants him to adopt a normal law career. Crusoe wants no such thing. He wants to go on big sea adventures. These adventures lead to both trouble and transcendence. He is captured and briefly enslaved. Conversely, he finds deep spiritual solace when he’s alone on the island.
In “Mateo Falcone,” the boy follows a similar trajectory, albeit in a condescended time period and restricted setting. Fortunato, like Crusoe, is able to bask in solitude. When his dad departs, Fortunato “tranquilly” stretches out in the sun. He has a scenic view of the mountains, and he’s thinking about an apparently splendid dinner he’ll soon enjoy with his uncle.
However, as with Crusoe, Fortunato encounters trouble. The appearance of Giannetto Saupiero takes Fortunato out of his reveries the way that the cannibals remove Crusoe from his blissful island solitude.
Unfortunately, unlike Crusoe, Fortuanto’s choices set in motion a series of events that conclude with his father executing him. Fortuanto won’t have further adventures like Crusoe. He won’t get married like Crusoe. He’s dead.
If you focus on how the two tales end, you should find a key difference. The father’s merciless killing of his own son imbues “Mateo Falcone” with a starker, bleaker mood than Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.