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Rise of the Novel 2018
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Assignment 1: Names

2 min read

During my initial scan of the “persons” list, I found it interesting that Crusoe’s name appears 9 consecutive times in one part while it rarely appears in other parts of the novel. Because the data from the lists are organized by the order in which they appeared in the text, I figured there must be a corresponding place in the novel where either Crusoe references himself or he is spoken of many times. I then looked closer and found that these occurrences of Crusoe’s name come from the scene in which his parrot startles him, having found him far from home in his boat: “…I was awaked out of my sleep by a voice calling me by my name several times, “Robin, Robin, Robin Crusoe: poor Robin Crusoe!  Where are you, Robin Crusoe?  Where are you? Where have you been?,” (113). 

First of all, this makes me want to further investigate the meaningfulness of his self-reference in the novel, including when he calls himself “poor miserable Robinson Crusoe” in the beginning of the journal. For example, the parrot calls him “Robin” rather than “Robinson”; because Crusoe says he taught Poll these phrases himself, it’s as if he gave him permission to refer to him as a friend. The bird is “sociable,” and at that point in the novel, the only person who talks to him besides himself. In addition, because the parrot only says what Crusoe has said before, the questions the bird asks have a double meaning: they’re what Crusoe has asked of himself, an exile, and what his bird-friend asks him – he cares about him being gone, so asks where he’s been and comes to find him. Triste.