J.M Coetzee Foe Paper

Then adds, “But perhaps it is the doing ot Providence that Friday tinds himselt on an island under a lenient master, rather than in Brazil, under the planter’s lash, or in Africa, where the forests teem with cannibals” (24). Here, Cruso defends Friday and highlights the unfair ways of the slavery that removed Friday from his homeland. Cruso even calls himself a “lenient” master, demonstrating that he does care for Friday. This affection corroborates the idea that Cruso and Friday have a father-son relationship, but there is also strong evidence to prove that Cruso sees Friday as a lave.

Coetzee portrays this relationship in a multifaceted way, that leads to the speculation of two conclusions; one conclusion being that Friday is like a slave to Cruso, another conclusion is that Friday is like a son to Crusoe. Coetzee creates Friday as a key narrative tool, which Coetzee uses to hammer home a broader motif: a connection between Fridays relationship with Cruso and apartheid. However, little is known about this central character except for his slave identity and speech deficiency.

The reader is told that when Friday was a child, he was taken by the lavers, and that they cut off his tongue to “prevent him from ever telling his story: who he was, where his home lay, how it came about that he was taken” (23). Thus the mutilation of Friday’s tongue ensures that his story remains buried within himself. The relationship between Cruso and Friday seems to strongly resemble the relationship between the oppressors and the oppressed in South Africa during apartheid.

Friday, silenced by an unknown entity, represents the people that have no opportunity to speak out, but hold the stories that tell the tale of apartheid from a ifferent viewpoint. But these people cannot speak. They, like Friday, are silenced. They are the ones that need to be heard. Struck by the urgency of Friday’s silence, Susan admits, “To tell my story and be silent on Friday’s tongue is no better than offering a book for sale with pages in it quietly left empty” (67).

Susan believes that her story is useless without input from Friday. This directly correlates to the story of South Africa, and it being useless without the moving stories of the oppressed people. Friday shows some sign of rebellion when Cruso becomes ill with the fever. Here, Friday makes no effort to help Susan take care of Cruso. Fridays motives are unclear here, but it could very well be his remorse finally rearing its ugly head, finding a way to fght the oppression that has chained him all of his life.

Nevertheless, immediately after Cruso recovers, Friday is restored to being a servant mindlessly serving a master. In South Africa, the oppressed people were afraid to take a stand against the government, Just like how Friday is tentative to take a stand gainst Cruso. Friday waits until Cruso is week with the flu, and then makes a sly, seemingly accidental attempt at revenge. Coetzee views this inability to act out and stand up as a major detriment to both Friday and the oppressed people of South Africa.

Fridays conformity and silence runs in tandem with the oppressed society of South Africa at the time that Coetzee wrote Foe. Cruso represents the oppressor, only teaching Friday what he needs to know, never more. The lack of disclosure and freedom that Friday experiences throughout the novel is characteristic of apartheid. Coetzee uses this relationship as a vessel to deliver the subtle yet powerful comparison of slavery to South Africa.

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