"My Man Friday"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Daniel Defoe's novel of adventure was inspired by the actual experiences of Alexander Selkirk, who was a castaway on Juan Fernandez Island off Chile, in 1704. Defoe's narrative is written in what the author termed "easy, plain, and familiar language," in the first person. Critics have noted for many years that the title-hero is a middle-class person who expounds and exemplifies the middle-class virtues in a way that was uncommon in fiction at the time. In the novel Robinson Crusoe sets sail for Africa to buy a cargo of slaves. When the ship is wrecked on the rocks off an island, he is the sole survivor and manages to live in reasonable comfort on the island for thirty-five years. After living alone for twenty-four years, Crusoe finds his little island "invaded" by cannibals from another island. Crusoe rescues a native held prisoner by the cannibals and names his new companion Friday, the day of the week of the native's rescue. Friday becomes a loyal and devoted servant for his rescuer as the weeks and months pass. After rescuing Friday and giving the poor fellow food and drink, Crusoe becomes more curious about the strangers who have come to his island. The next morning, accompanied by his new companion, Crusoe sets out:

. . . having now more courage, and consequently more curiosity, I took my man Friday with me, giving him the sword in his hand, with the bows and arrows at his back . . . and away we marched to the place where these creatures had been. . . .