Comparing Foe by J.M. Coetzee and Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe

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Both Foe by J.M. Coetzee and Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe have many similarities and differences. Defoe uses Robinson Crusoe to explore certain issues like race, gender, exploration, and independence through his eyes. While Coetzee uses his piece to update the outlook of the story by throwing some changes into the mix, like a female main character. Defoe left many questions unanswered while Coetzee tries to answer some of them. Susan Barton is a complex character but she helps fill the void of women left from the original text. In Robinson Crusoe, we get first-hand knowledge of Crusoe’s personality, beliefs, and feelings, as he’s the narrator and main focus of the book. In Foe, Barton gives specific descriptions that we the reader did not receive from Defoe’s novel.
The first difference you notice when reading Foe is that the main character is a woman who goes by the name of Susan Barton. You also notice that Crusoe’s name is spelled differently in Foe. It is spelled Cruso as opposed to Crusoe in the original text. Robinson Crusoe is just a man on an island, although Foe does go a little further into detail about him. For example Barton goes on to describe Crusoe to us,
“The stranger’s eyes were green, his hair burnt to a straw color. I judged he was sixty years of age. He wore…a jerkin, and drawers to below his knees, such as we see watermen wear on the Thames, and a tall cap rising in a cone, all of these made of pelts laced together, the fur outwards, and a stout pair of sandals. In his belt were a short stick and a knife. A mutineer…. yet another mutineer” (Coetzee 8).
But in the original novel Robinson Crusoe there was never a description given. While Susan is more out spoken than Crusoe she still has some similar charact...

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... Susan Barton of course and after being upon the island "eight and twenty Years, two Months, and 19 Days" (Defoe 234) Crusoe does survive the voyage along with Friday. He arrives in England June 11, 1687, but his undertakings do not end there. He first checks on the widow he left to care for his money. He then decides to go to Lisbon with Friday and meets with the Portuguese captain he met on his journeys of off the coast of Africa all those years ago. After catching up he tells Crusoe that his plantations are waiting for him to claim them. After claiming his land he returns home, gets married and has “three Children, two Sons and one Daughter" (Defoe 256). Crusoe visits Brazil one last time, where he decides to send some women back to his island for the men to have wives. He then ends his narrative with a promise of more adventures, to possibly be told in a sequel.

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