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Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, is a novel rich with its varying themes. Among these, is a theme about fathers and sons. This is seen throughout the novel with actual fathers and father figures. Concerning Robinson Crusoe himself, this theme acts as a developmental tool which can be seen from the beginning to the end.
At the beginning, we are introduced to Robinson Crusoe and his father. This of course is an obvious observation to make. As the story progresses, we see Crusoe befall many misfortunes, which can be traced to his “original sin” concerning his father, and his disobedience to his prophetic warning about going to sea.
Short way into the story, we meet Xury. Crusoe and Xury were both captives, or to say slaves of a Captain of the Moors. When both of these characters escaped from their master, Crusoe made Xury swear more or less an allegiance to him. This Xury agreed to without any questions asked. Through time, it seems that Xury, became more of a close companion to Crusoe than that of a slave. Together, being in slavery and going through some adventures, you could say that Crusoe developed an emotional tie to him, more than that of slave and master. This can clearly be seen when the Portugese Captain offers to buy Xury and take him from Crusoe’s hands. Crusoe felt sorry for this, as he was selling the freedom of his new found companion who was instrumental in gaining his own. These can be viewed as somewhat close emotional ties with his boy Xury, acting more of the father than the master, though he sold him anyway.
After a while when Crusoe became stranded on his remote deserted island, we are introduced to Friday. Friday was rescued by Crusoe after escaping his fellow savages, who were in the ritual process of about to consume his flesh. In given time, Crusoe taught his new found companion many things of his island way of life. First of all things, Crusoe taught Friday to speak and understand the English language though how broken it was. With the understanding of Crusoe’s language, he was taught how to live and survive on the island. But in actuality, he was taking over most of the work from Crusoe. Crusoe along with teaching Friday the island way, also converted him to Christianity, showing him the error of his “savage” ways.
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When the savages returned once again to the island to partake in their ritual consumption of human flesh, Crusoe decided that he and Friday shall attempt to rescue the prisoners. Upon doing so Friday encounters his natural father. He then became joyous and excited at this find. Seeing these emotional outbursts toward his father, Crusoe can be said to feel an emotional loss with regards to his feelings with Friday, his “son”.
With many rescue attempts, the population on Crusoe’s island realm increases. With his new “subjects’, who referred to him as Governor, he was in a position of power and another type of fatherly role. All of his subjects, swore obedience, and in turn he taught them the ways of the island as he had done with Friday. When leaving the island and leaving behind his captives, he felt there was more to teach them. He taught them how to live, and cultivate the land to sustain themselves with food. He showed them how to properly trap and raise the goats, milk them, plant crops, make and bake bread. This can be viewed as knowledge passing from father to son, so that they may better themselves.
The most occurring example of this theme, is that of Crusoe’s relationship with his narrow-minded view of his Christian “one and true God.” When his father’s prophetic warning came to pass, he felt as if it were his “God” exacting punishment for his original sin against his father. While stranded upon the island, Crusoe at many times turned to his bible for readings. He on occasion at first, then regularly later on, read his bible to learn the teachings of his “God.” During these times, he felt as though his “God” provided him with the findings of the wrecked ships for supplies he needed greatly and for his overall survival. He felt as though learning these teachings he could better himself and that his “God” would provide the means for his final escape off of the island.
As stated in the above examples, the reader can see the regularly occurring theme of fathers and sons. Through this Crusoe went through a growth process. This process was one in which his character evolved from the beginning to the end. It also acted as a personal and emotional development for Crusoe. Being a son and a father throughout his trial and tribulations, Crusoe became a better person emotionally and through his actions towards all things in general and those concerning his fellow man.