Why does Attean become upset about the story in Sign of the Beaver?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Attean is fascinated by the story Robinson Crusoe, but he becomes upset when Friday bows to Robinson Crusoe and calls him "Master".  The idea of anyone being so willingly subservient to a white man infuriates him.

Robinson Crusoe frees Friday from cannibals, and in his gratitude, the man submits to being his servant.  The book, written in 1719, communicates themes which are highly imperialistic.  Taking the man he saved on as essentially a slave, Crusoe teaches Friday to read and converts him to Christianity, but refuses to believe that he can learn anything from Friday in return.  Although Crusoe is not unkind, his superior view of his own culture over that of the native is representative of the mindset behind the practice of imperialism.  For all intents and purposes, Crusoe believes that his way of living is the right and only way.  In his mind, Friday is a savage whose way of life has little inherent value.  Crusoe feels entitled to impose his will over Friday, and believes that he is doing the black man a favor by bringing him over to the white man's way.

When Attean hears how Friday, a black man, is subjugated by Crusoe, a white man, it angers him because he relates it to the experience of his own people at the hands of the white settlers in North America.  His Native American tribe is being cheated by the white man's treaties and slowly being driven off the land that has been theirs for generations, and Attean is keenly aware of the injustice.  He himself is furious, and inclined to fight for what is rightfully his and his people's, and to hear from a book how Friday unquestioningly allows himself to be the white man's servant goes against everything in which Attean believes.