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Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe


by Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe Slavery Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Page Number). We used the 2008 Oxford World Classics edition.

Quote #4

…so that I might say, I had more than four times the Value of my first Cargo, and was now infinitely beyond my poor Neighbour, I mean in the Advancement of my Plantation; for the first thing I did, I bought me a Negro Slave, and an European Servant also; I mean another besides that which the Captain brought me from Lisbon. (33)

Crusoe buys a "Negro Slave" for the maintenance of his plantation. Note, however, that the "European" in his service is not referred to as a slave, but as a servant. Another example of Eurocentrism at work.

Quote #5

…and after enjoining me Secrecy, they told me, that they had a mind to fit out a Ship to go to Guinea, that they had all the Plantations as well as I, and were straiten'd for nothing so much as Servants; that as it was a Trade that could not be carried on, because they could not publickly sell the Negroes when they came home, so they desired to make but one Voyage to bring the Negroes on Shoar privately, and divide them among their own Plantations; and in a Word, the Question was, wehter I wold go their Super-Cargo in the Ship to manage the Trading Part upon the Coast of Guinea? And they offer'd me that I should have my equal Share of Negroes without providing any Part of the Stock. (35)

A group of merchants and planters ask Crusoe to take part in a scheme in which he is sent to Guinea to collect slave labor. In return, he'll get his own share of slaves. Crusoe later refers to it as a "fair proposal" (35). Crusoe's wealth in Brazil is dependent on this kind of labor.

Quote #6

…in a little Time I began to speak to him, and teach him to speak to me; and first, I made him know his Name should be Friday, which was the Day I sav'd his Life; I call'd him so for the Memory of the Time; I likewise taught him to say Master, and then let him know, that was to be my Name; (174)

Though Crusoe doesn't technically buy Friday, he does take complete possession of the man. The practice of slavery often involved replacing native names with Christian ones. (A great example is in the movie Roots.)  Why do you think renaming might be an effective strategy for ensuring submission? Also, why does Crusoe have Friday call him "Master"?

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