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Chapter 14

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 14 of Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe.

Robinson Crusoe | Chapter 14 | Summary

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Summary

Life continues as it has on the island for two more years, but during this time, Robinson Crusoe begins thinking seriously about how to escape. He also considers how much danger the natives pose for him. He was in no less danger before he learned of their existence, but he was happier not knowing about them. He ultimately decides his best chance for escape is to capture one of the natives and make him into an assistant and guide in his escape.

After another year and a half, this dream comes true. A group of natives come to shore with two captives. They kill one captive right away, but the other captive makes a run for it while they prepare to cook the first man. Crusoe sees all of this happen and intervenes to help the fugitive escape, killing one of the pursuers with his gun and giving the escaped captive a sword to kill the other pursuer. Having rescued this captive, Crusoe takes him as a servant and names him Friday. He begins teaching Friday English, gives him clothes, and dissuades him from cannibalism when he wants to eat the two men they killed. In fact, Crusoe promises to kill Friday if he suggests cannibalism again.

Shortly after taking Friday into his service, Crusoe spends time fortifying his dwelling in case Friday turns against him, but his fears are unfounded as Friday becomes a faithful companion and servant.

Analysis

After the close encounter with the natives and his disappointment at not finding any survivors on the Spanish ship, Robinson Crusoe resumes thoughts of escaping from the island. He complains of his own, and humankind's, general inability to be satisfied with his place in the world as the cause for his desire to wander from the island, but he has been in this place of total isolation for almost 25 years. In conjunction with these new plans, he begins to change his attitude toward the natives, thinking of them as potential property after he has a dream of one of them wandering into his camp and becoming a guide to help with the escape. As practical as this plan may be, his interest in making one of the natives his slave reflects how Crusoe continues to follow the European idea that non-Europeans are less human and their lack of civilization makes them fair game as slaves.

The reality plays out a little differently as Friday is brought to the island as a captive and does not wander into Crusoe's camp seeking shelter. Friday's escape from his captors, and Crusoe's role in it, features far more dramatic action. Crusoe is heroic in his assistance to Friday, but it is notable that he does not directly intervene to save Friday until after Friday has run from his captors on his own. Crusoe is still exercising caution toward the natives. He remains reluctant to make the first strike. Friday at first approaches Crusoe with fear, not understanding the gun or Crusoe's intentions. Even after the two become friendly, Friday defers to Crusoe completely. Crusoe accepts this servility without surprise as his due and begins immediately to teach Friday how to speak English rather than trying to learn any of Friday's native language, and to dress him in clothes which are, at least at first, evidently uncomfortable for him. Crusoe's dominance of Friday is not just his reward for rescuing him but also his right as representative of the more civilized and Godly culture—a right that is so self-evident to him that he does not even articulate it for the reader. Crusoe thinks of Friday as his property and defines him by his lack of exposure to civilization, calling him "my savage" and teaching Friday to call him "Master." He "tames" Friday in a manner reminiscent of the way he tamed his goats, feeding the very hungry Friday to inspire his loyalty, even though the captors, not Crusoe, were the ones who starved him.

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