Foe | Study Guide

J.M. Coetzee

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Course Hero. "Foe Study Guide." Course Hero. 29 Sep. 2020. Web. 10 Aug. 2022. <>.

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Course Hero. (2020, September 29). Foe Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved August 10, 2022, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2020)



Course Hero. "Foe Study Guide." September 29, 2020. Accessed August 10, 2022.


Course Hero, "Foe Study Guide," September 29, 2020, accessed August 10, 2022,



J.M. Coetzee

Year Published





Adventure, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Perspective and Narrator

The novel employs various perspectives. Parts 1 and 2 are told from the first-person perspective of the narrator Susan Barton. Part 2 is a series of letters from Susan's perspective that are written by Susan to Foe. Part 4 is told from the perspective of an unnamed narrator.


The novel uses a variety of tenses. The majority of the novel uses the simple past tense when Susan narrates. Susan uses a mixture of the present simple tense and the present perfect tense when writing her letters. The unnamed narrator uses the present simple tense in the final chapter.

About the Title

The title refers to Daniel Defoe (1660–1731) as well as the sense of animosity on the island. A fictionalized version of Daniel Defoe appears in the book and Susan enlists him to help her write the story of her time on the island. She refers to him as "Foe" rather than as "Daniel Defoe." Susan's arrival on the island thrusts her into a complicated relationship between characters Cruso and Friday. She is never quite sure who is a friend and who is a foe.


This study guide for J.M. Coetzee's Foe offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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