An Obsession with Friday’s Tongue

Since we have already read “Robinson Crusoe,” we know that Friday does not have a tongue. While reading that book, I did not think too much on who, when, or why someone would cut out Friday’s tongue. But as I started reading “Foe,” I realized that Susan was going to change how I thought about the issue. It is only in the first few pages of “Foe” that Susan is introduced to the fact that Friday’s tongue was cut off. She was immediately confused on why someone could do that to young Friday, and soon started to realize she was shuddering at the sight of him. She says, “Indeed, it was the very secretness of his loss that caused me to shrink from him.” Susan started to treat Friday as if he were disgusting, even though it was not his own fault he did not have a tongue. She could not stand to look at him knowing what he was missing. What Susan says about Friday is seen among many people then and today. People look upon others with disgust if they have a disability. This is not uncommon in the world we live in today.

For the remainder of the time on the island, Susan thought about Friday’s tongue, but stopped asking Cruso questions about it. Cruso did not want to discuss about Friday’s tongue like Susan did. Any question she had was answered with a short sentence. But when Susan and Friday were in England, she began to wonder if not being able to speak had caused him to lose the meaning of words. She could not stand to not know what happened to Friday, but the only person who could tell her what happened, was Friday himself. Susan’s drive to know Friday’s story was interesting to me. Although she looked at Friday as if he was not right, she still cared to know who had done this to him. As her obsession grew, Susan started to think that maybe Cruso cut off Friday’s tongue. This belief that Susan had made me question how she really felt about Cruso. Why would Susan think that Cruso did this?

Susan started to come up with scenarios of Cruso cutting out Friday’s tongue. She asks, “Did Cruso bind you hand and foot and force a block of wood between your teeth and then hack out your tongue?” As a reader, this envision Susan has sounds ridiculous, but makes it clear how disturbed she is by Friday’s tongue. Susan began to try and get Friday to show signs of him understanding what she was saying, but he was unwilling. She even tried to teach him to write letters, but he would not do this either. Susan realized that Friday was capable but simply did not want to respond to her. This was torturous for her because all she wanted to know was Friday’s story. How did he lose his tongue, and who did it to him were her questions.

I think that as a reader, it is intriguing throughout the book to understand how Susan feels about Friday’s tongue. At first, it is hard to believe that Susan would be this bothered by a tongue. The isolation between her and Friday caused her to have such ideas in her head. If I was in Susan’s position, I would probably have some of the same thoughts as her. Cruso did not want to talk about Friday, and maybe it is because he did it himself. I will not say Susan was crazy for being obsessed with his tongue, as it was interesting to read, but she did take it too far trying to get Friday to show responses.