Friday’s End like Sunday

No matter how Friday is portrayed in “Robinson Crusoe” or “Foe,” his character is docile, deranged and quite depressing. A foreigner turned friend in some adaptations like “Robinson Crusoe on Mars,” Friday is the evil result from European conquest and colonization of Africans. Serving both Susan and Crusoe, he’s subjected to subservience and obedience. Now in the contemporary, we approach his role as problematic in it being a poor representation for people of color in media. And with the recent wave of American slave narratives in the reboot series of “Roots” and the Oscar Award-winning 2013 film “12 Years A Slave,” more hidden stories have been made as a response to this antebellum allure. In my blog, I’d like to explore the traits of Friday as a character in both stories as a comparison to what enslaved people endured.
In “Foe,” Friday is introduced as Cruso’s African slave. He has an inability to speak much due to him not having a tongue. Well in the context of slaves, tongue were cut out as a punishment for speaking out or rebelling. Therefore, this can be an indicator that in “saving” Friday, Cruso may have punished him as well for not being compliant with his condition. At one point in “Robinson Crusoe,” Crusoe tries to teach Friday to call him “master.” The term “master” has a large, negative connotation in terminology used on plantation life. Colloquially spelled as “massa” in some text, it reinforces the power dynamic between master and slave with the referral of names. The slave is subjected and subservient to the master, which is objective and overbearing of the slave. The subtly of the roles speak volume. Another instance can be when Friday is seen dancing in Foe’s clothing bearing nothing. The act captured by Susan is viewed as savage or unruly. His portrayal can be liken to that of black minstrelsy in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Blackface and Jim Crow were satirical derogative figure meant to demean African Americans as cartoonish, ignorant and having rhythm. This observation by her “others” him in being something like entertainment. Lastly, we examined a line that stated Friday’s place in the world. “This is the place where bodies are their own signs. It is the home of Friday (Susan, P. 157).” Susan discovers Friday’s body chain up underwater in the slave quarters of a sunken ship. I bet you that this has direct ties to the Middle Passage of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Hundreds of thousands Africans died on the treacherous journey from Africa to the Americas. Some became sick and were disposed of in the ocean while others dived for death knowing that their fate was already determined when they arrived ashore. The latter is an intriguing concept given Killmonger’s final lines in the 2018 film “Black Panther” where he proclaims that he too would rather die free with his ancestors than live in bondage. With that in mind, Friday can be symbolism in this last scene as the people of color not only in South Africa, but in the colonial Africa that were oppressed to death.