Coetzee´s Foe and Defoe´s Robinson Crusoe Contrasting Stories of Friday

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Both the verbal and nonverbal voice play a huge part in making us who we are by establishing our character, our personality, and allowing us to express our thoughts to those around us. The voice is such an important part of our person that without one our very being would be vulnerable and mold to the wants and desires of others. J.M. Coetzee’s Foe and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe tell two contrasting stories about the life of a savage manservant named Friday. Foe’s Friday is incapable of speech due to a horrific mutilation done to his mouth. Defoe’s Friday is capable of speech and is taught to understand and speak the English language. No matter what version you believe, it is impossible to know which author tells the true story.…show more content…
The Colour of his skin was not quite black but very tawny…His face was round, and plump; his Nose small, not flat like the Negroes…” (Defoe, 189-190). In Coetzee’s novel Friday is described as “…a Negro with a head of fuzzy wool, naked save for a pair of rough drawers…flat face, the small dull eyes, the broad nose, the thick lips, the skin not black but a dark gray…” (Coetzee, 5). Based on these descriptions, Friday’s physical appearances are the polar opposites of each other. Defoe’s Friday has the appearance of a native from the Americas whereas as Foe’s Friday has the appearance of an African. Why is Friday portrayed as an Indian in one and an African in the other? Defoe made the decision to make Friday’s appearance similar to that of an Indian because it would make Friday a more interesting and appealing character to the readers. An Indian is much more exotic than an African, especially since the novel is set during the era of colonization in the Americas. Therefore, in order to expose Defoe’s Friday as a pure figment of the imagination, Coetzee portrays his Friday as an African to show the alteration that has been made to the physical appearance of the character. After all, it was very common for a European to have an African slave during that time period. Coetzee is making the argument that Defoe has conjured up lies to make Friday a better attention grabber. Already, just based

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