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Friday, or The Other Island is a 1967 novel by Michel Tournier which reimagines the story of Robinson Crusoe. The characters are as follows:

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Robinson Crusoe

Daniel Defoe's protagonist is here seen as a twenty-two year old Quaker who leaves his family for a new life in America. He is shipwrecked on an island off the South American coast where he meets Friday.


An Araucanian (South American Indian) brought to the island as a sacrifice. Although he agrees to serve Robinson, his skills and knowledge make him an increasingly dominant partner in the relationship. Unlike Robinson, he chooses to leave the island.

Jaan Neljapäev

A galley boy on the Whitebird, a ship that discovers Robinson and Friday. When Friday decides to leave with the ship, Jaan takes his place on the island and Robinson renames him Sunday.

Captain Pieter Van Deyssel

Captain of the Virginia who accurately predicts Robinson's fate.

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 667

Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe, a Quaker mariner from York, England. At the age of twenty-two, as a tall, red-haired, slender young man, he leaves his family to seek a fortune in the New World, but this ambition is thwarted by a shipwreck off an island on the South American coast. Robinson is the only human survivor. At first, he rails against his fate and his haven. He names the island “Desolation,” and he builds a ship, the Escape, but cannot launch it. Robinson then experiences the first in a series of rebirths of personality and philosophy that occur during his twenty-eight-year ordeal. He rechristens the island “Speranza,” and his pious, obsessive nature comes to the fore. He cultivates more crops than he could possibly need, and he legislates and codifies his existence. Robinson believes that he can even stop time when he chooses to shut off his water clock. He is, during this phase, a dry and avaricious man, yet he is ethical, successful, and moral by societal standards. After discovering a cavern on the island, Robinson adopts a more Earth-oriented, nonconventional outlook, and he develops a sensual nature. The island literally becomes his mistress; he copulates in the cave, in a tree, and in the soil itself. When this period of emotional and physical awareness is interrupted by the arrival of Friday, Robinson returns to the psyche that loves order, until Friday inadvertently blows up the island’s buildings. Then, Robinson adopts a persona inspired by his Araucanian (South American Indian) companion. He lives in the present and enjoys nature but does not exploit it, he allows his hair to grow and his skin to darken, and he appears to be years younger. At this point, Robinson achieves a happiness based on harmony with his environment, particularly with the sun. When Friday leaves and Jaan appears, Robinson is on the threshold of a new life that will allow him to blend the multiple facets of the self he has developed.


Friday, an Araucanian native. A slender, extremely dark, and lithe young man, Friday is brought to the island for sacrifice by his fellow tribesmen. By accident, Robinson saves him; then, he is named by and becomes a companion to Robinson. Friday has an insouciant manner; he is equally content to follow Robinson’s orders, nature’s will, or his own whims. He feels at ease with animals, even those (such as vultures) that society abhors, but he is not averse to torturing or even killing them for his own ends. After he accidentally destroys Speranza’s civilized ambience, Friday in many ways becomes the master of Robinson. Rather than take advantage of this situation, he shares his knowledge and cultural myths in a matter-of-fact way. Friday consistently possesses a dual nature. He is skilled in the ways of the island, enjoys the...

(The entire section contains 1368 words.)

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Critical Essays