Robinson Crusoe is an adventurous spirit who ignores his father's advice to stay at home and enjoy the "middle station" in life. Instead, he goes to sea and experiences many adventures, including a 28-year stay on a deserted island. While he is not the classic hero, he possesses many admirable qualities, including persistence, courage, and inventiveness. When his ship sinks on his first voyage, he resolves to continue pursuing his dream of a life at sea. He learns the skills to survive when he is cast ashore on a remote island. When cannibals visit the island, he summons the courage to rescue their hostages. Despite Crusoe's admirable virtues, he possesses other less-desirable qualities. He has no qualms in being a slave trader. And after he rescues Friday from the cannibals, the first word he teaches him is to call him "master." Throughout the novel, Crusoe remains a complex and contradictory character.
Friday is a native who is saved from the cannibals by Robinson Crusoe. He becomes a willing servant, eager to learn English and do Crusoe's bidding. He also stands in emotional contrast to Crusoe. Whereas Crusoe shows little emotion, never seeming to miss his parents or wanting close ties to others, Friday displays strong emotions. He jumps and cries and laughs when he finds his father. And he becomes closely attached to Crusoe, volunteering to die for Crusoe whenever he bids. Friday is also intelligent and learns quickly. He is brave and willingly follows Crusoe into combat with the cannibals.