According to the definition, a savage refers to an individual who is not civilized. However, Friday can be excluded from this category since he possessed civilized traits. He was influenced by the civilization present in his community and displayed similar characteristics, behaviors, and beliefs as the rest of his tribe.
The fact that he had religious beliefs is proof of his level of civilization. A savage can also be defined as anything non-European. Although Friday was not European, he did not possess the typical characteristics associated with being “savage”. He is described as having a pleasant and friendly appearance, with traits similar to those of a European. His hair was long and black, not curly like wool. The color of his skin was not completely black, but rather a tawny shade, different from the ugly yellowish tawny seen in Brazilians, Virginians, and other Native Americans. He had a small nose, not flat like Africans, a well-formed mouth with thin lips, and beautiful teeth that were as white as ivory (Defoe 205).
When the two characters meet, Friday approaches Robinson Crusoe calmly and without aggression. Despite his fear, Friday refrains from reacting aggressively towards Robinson Crusoe. He does not exhibit any signs of being wild, ferocious, or barbaric. Initially, Friday communicates using sign language, demonstrating his familiarity with a primitive form of communication. He swiftly learns Robinson Crusoe’s language and displays eagerness to learn more, while Robinson Crusoe avoids learning Friday’s language. It is evident that Friday possesses religious or spiritual beliefs right from their initial encounter.
According to Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, when Friday is saved by Robinson Crusoe from the savages who intended to eat him on the island, he is overwhelmed with gratitude and offers himself as a lifelong servant. Friday demonstrates his subservience and commitment by placing his head on the ground near Robinson Crusoe’s foot and placing Robinson Crusoe’s other foot on his head. It is clear that Friday is willing to serve Robinson Crusoe for as long as he lives (Defoe 206).
Once it became clear that Friday posed no threat, Robinson Crusoe appreciated his presence. Friday would be a valuable asset in the daily tasks of Robinson Crusoe’s habitation. The tasks that Robinson Crusoe had previously struggled with became easier with two men instead of one. Friday’s diligent work indicated his civilization.
Robinson Crusoe taught Friday his language and also attempted to change his eating habits. Friday, who was originally brought to the island by cannibals, enjoyed consuming human flesh. Robinson Crusoe made it clear to Friday that this behavior was not acceptable. In reference to the savages that Robinson Crusoe had rescued Friday from, he mentioned that Friday was eager to dig them up and eat them. Additionally, Robinson Crusoe discovered that Friday still had a strong desire for human flesh and was still inclined towards cannibalism. However, Robinson Crusoe had communicated to him that he would kill him if he tried to consume human flesh again.
In due course, Robinson Crusoe educates Friday about consuming animal meat instead of humans. Initially perplexed when questioned about his religious beliefs, Friday eventually shares his reverence for an “old Benamuckee, that liv’d beyond all” (Defoe 216). Crusoe then assumes the responsibility of enlightening his newly found companion about religion, stating, “I began to instruct him on the Knowledge of the true God” (Defoe 216).
Friday was a devoted student to Robinson Crusoe, eagerly soaking up every word from his mouth, even though some questions proved challenging to answer. Defoe deliberately left Robinson Crusoe stranded on the island for an extensive period before Friday’s arrival, creating a gradual buildup to their fateful meeting. Friday’s rescue from imminent death marked the starting point for Robinson Crusoe’s eventual return to civilization. Having spent so long in isolation without any contact with the outside world, Robinson Crusoe needed a period of readjustment upon his reintegration into society.
The arrival of Friday marked the initial phase of reconnecting with fellow human beings. Robinson Crusoe had to regain his trust in the people who arrived on the island in order for him to find a path forward (Berlau, John).