Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 610
Friday is Michel Tournier's 1960s retelling of the Robinson Crusoe story. Crucially, Tournier changes the point of view from a first-person account to a third-person omniscient perspective interspersed with Crusoe's first-person journal entries. This significantly changes the tone of the original. While Defoe's narrative is imbued with the sincerity and unifying force of Crusoe's voice, Tournier's perspective allows him to depict Crusoe more wryly and negatively. Further, the third-person perspective enables Tournier to penetrate and reveal Friday's thoughts, something completely absent from the original book.
As in the original, Crusoe ends up the sole survivor of a shipwreck, a castaway on a deserted island. After a period of near madness, Crusoe, as in the original, scavenges what he can from the submerged ship and, to keep his sanity, engages in a project of farming and domesticating his island. He builds a home, The Residence, designs a timekeeping device, writes laws, plants crops, keeps great stores of grain, battles rats, and creates a rice paddy while following a rigid schedule. Unlike the original Crusoe, this Robinson reincarnation is a Quaker, so he holds Quaker meetings in which he reads a Bible he salvaged from the ship.
Tournier shows much of Crusoe's activity to be ridiculous, but he also exhibits sympathy for Crusoe's need to impose order to stay sane. However, as his journal entries reveal, Crusoe realizes he has not achieved an adequate life or relationship with the island, which he has named Speranza. He believes there is a metaphoric second island behind the one he has done his best to dominate and control. He believes he is in a process of change.
He begins to have sex with the island, using the moss-filled opening in a fallen tree, and is both surprised and pleased when mandrake-like flowering plants start growing near this place, the offspring of his "union" with Speranza.
As in the original novel, Crusoe saves the life of Friday. In this incarnation Friday is a part Indian, part black teenager who Crusoe initially considers his slave and inferior. He makes Friday work hard and conform to his European norms and hits or beats him when Friday does not meet his expectations. Although Friday complies readily with his demands, Crusoe still often feels...
(The entire section contains 610 words.)
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