Well, I gave it another shot, and all in all I can whole heartily say I didn’t like this text. This wasn’t my first time reading Foe, and honestly, both readings have given me a great deal of dissapointment. I must admit though, that the first 120 pages sparked my interest and I found far more enjoyable than my first reading, but the last 30 pages completely turned me off and left me unsatisfied. You can’t rob me of my ending and expect me to like it.
What I hated on my first reading was how much the story was an unfair alteration from a personally beloved text. Robinson Crusoe was an adventure with character development, charm and humbleness. This story is a retelling that molests all that I once loved. Friday and Crusoe’s platonic relationship is reduced to nothing more than a slave and a master. Crusoe’s ambitious endeavours for colonizing his island are hued in a light of stubbornness and futility. And Friday’s nationality, charismatic entity, and worst of all his own voice are literally cut away from this retelling. Coetzee, why’d you have to rape my story?
Okay, but there were some things that I did like. Robinson Crusoe inspired me. It made me believe that under enough duress, any ordinary nobody could accomplish anything. It made the fate of a castaway seem noble and enchanting. Coetzee slaps me in the face, and spits the harsh reality on me. Being stranded is no adventure. Robinson Crusoe is a fairytale. Foe has a very subtle way of unraveling this truth. The clothes Crusoe creates easily fall apart in time, due to their mediocre construction from the ape skins, and the makeshift clothes he produces smell vile- just as they should. And while Crusoe is able to live in isolation almost peacefully with hardly any inner struggles in Defoe’s version, it’s clear that such a circumstance would drive any real person insane. It wouldn’t make a man work tirelessly to pursuit noble endeavours, it would beat him into a hopeless sense of idleness and submission! It’s a sad truth, I prefer the fairytale to be honest, but everyone needs a harsh slap in the face every now and then to see things how they really are.
Another theme is the idea of isolation. Crusoe survives a life sentence of hardly any companionship and absolutely no women as comfort in the original book. But in telling that his solitude has broken his humanity, making him feel no compassion toward Barton or a will to ever leave his island. But Barton only suffers Crusoe’s fate for a mere year, yet her return to civilization finds herself in no better condition. Coetzee proves that isolation is so much more than the literal separation from humankind. Back in England Barton is more of a castaway than she was on Crusoe’s island. She only has one friend, and ironically he’s a mute. Everywhere she goes she is ignored or shunned. It least she had Crusoe for company; some form of a lover or companion. People see her as a nomad, a whore (she kind of is), and a gypsy. This is the strandedness that every reader can relate. Despite the fact that we live surrounded by human beings and civil enclosures, many social barriers can serve as the same distance as sea spans between islands.
I don’t hate this story, it just confuses and pisses me off. Ugh, I have nothing more to say.