“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.”

In the early days of Crusoe and Friday’s partnership on the island, Crusoe establishes a dynamic between the two similar to that of a master and slave. This passage indicates to the reader that Crusoe cares more about his ownership and dominance over Friday than he does about Friday’s ability to communicate effectively. The passage even suggests that perhaps Crusoe’s entire reason for rescuing Friday from the cannibals was so that he could have a slave on the island. It was more important for Friday to know who his master is than for him to be able to deny Crusoe by using the word “no.”

“This was the pleasantest year of all the life I led in this place; Friday began to talk pretty well, and understand the names of almost every thing I had occasion to call for, and of ever place I had to send him to, and talk’d a great deal to me; so that in short I began now to have some use for my tongue again, which indeed I had very little occasion for before; that is to say, about speech.”

In Chapter 15, Crusoe reflects on the usefulness, both in terms of utility and entertainment, Friday has provided. Not once during this reflection does Crusoe contemplate Friday’s well-being or perspective. The passage further suggests that Friday’s primary role is to satisfy Crusoe, both by doing chores and by providing social stimulation. The ambivalence of mastery then transforms into a selfishness, as everything on the island, including the people, serves the sole purpose of yielding to Crusoe’s needs. 

“My island was now peopled, and I thought my self very rich in subjects; and it was a merry reflection which I frequently made, how like a king I look’d. First of all, the whole country was my own meer property; so that I had an undoubted right of dominion. 2dly, my people were perfectly subjected: I was absolute Lord and law-giver; they all owed their Lives to me, and were ready to lay down their lives, if there had been occasion of it, for me.”

This passage in Chapter 16 exhibits the ways in which ambivalence can give way to a lack of awareness or a sense of delusion. The reader understands that the land does not belong to Crusoe, nor do the people sharing the island with him. Yet Crusoe has become so ambivalent to the inherent freedom of nature and the inherent nature of people that he has mistakenly assumed himself a king.