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Quotes

To exist—what do the words mean? It means to be outside—sistere ex. That which is outside exists. That which is within does not. My thoughts, images, and dreams do not exist. If Speranza is not more than a bundle of sensations, or a bundle of sensations, then she does not exist. And I myself exist only insofar as I escape myself to join with others.

Robinson Crusoe comes to a realization that human existence is social: it relies on other people. Existence is exterior. Crusoe goes on to ruminate that the world conspires strongly to entice us into believing that dreams and fantasies, projects and ideas do exist, but he rejects this notion. We should recognize that this quote is from Crusoe's journal of ruminations. He often exhibits limitations in his thinking, and the novel invites us to argue with him. Nevertheless, the novel also makes a strong case that people become fully human only as they enter into equal relationships with others.

Friday dropped the egg-shaped pebble and picked up another that was round and flat, a small opalescent disc splashed with mauve! He tossed it in his hand. If only he could fly! If he could turn himself into a butterfly! And the thought of making the stone fly suddenly delighted his Ariel soul.

Unlike in the original Robinson Crusoe, at times the narrative point of view in this novel enters Friday's consciousness. We get to experience the world through his eyes, and this helps humanize him. In Tournier's retelling, he is not simply the inferior other. Here we see his joie de vivre on a day Crusoe has disappeared, and Friday is left free to wander as he wills. We witness his delight at the idea of flying, foreshadowing the kite he will make and his choice at the end of the novel.

Speranza is no longer a virgin land that I must make fruitful, nor Friday a savage whom I must teach to behave. Both call for all my attention, a watchful and marveling vigilance, for it seems to me–nay, I know it—that at any moment I am seeing them for the first time, and that nothing will ever dull their magical freshness.

In this novel, Speranza, the island, becomes a character, first a woman Crusoe has sex with and dominates, then a "wife" with whom he lives in harmony. In this passage, we understand that Crusoe has reached a new plane of existence: he no longer wants to dominate either the island or Friday, and this liberates him to appreciate them fully for what they are.