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Text and context - Robinson Crusoe

Updated: May 21, 2018


book cover
There are some stories that are told many times. The setting of the tale may change, to a different era or a parallel universe, the personnel of the story might be replaced with animals or robots or any combination of these possibilities. Despite these changes the narrative structure of the story is still recognisable

I have been given 4 well known stories to choose one and twist it into Science Fiction / Contemporary Historical / geographical / cultural Surreal / Magic Realism. So I chose Robinson Crusoe.



I knew what the brief story is but I haven't read it properly so I had to read the story first and figured out there are some components I didn't know about.


- There is Friday who is slave of Robinson Crusoe.

- The story is very religious.

- He basically colonised the island not gets along with it.


Especially the attitude of Robinson Crusoe to Friday made me very uncomfortable throughout the story because Friday just naturally became his slave like it was just meant to be like that. Therefore, I wanted to change their vertical relationship. So I decided to put a strong girl instead of Friday.



Geumja's personality

Geumja is a strong and independent woman who ran away from the tradition. It is reflected from her job. Female divers who catch sea creature (Hae-nyeo) only exist in Korea and Japan. They used to dive into 20m below for up to 2minutes without any equipment but goggles back in the time. It was a low class job and the women had to be strong and wild, people looked down to them.

Geum-yoil is Friday in Korean



They meet on Friday like the original story but the difference is that she has her own name not has been given it by Robinson. Her name is Geumja and she is from one of the island in Korea by a boat. So Robinson stayed in the deserted island in East sea. She is a diver so better at catching fish than Robinson and she can do other tough things better than him so she doesn't look up to him or listen to him.


Whereas, Friday rapidly gets westernised. He eats cooked meat and bread and learns English, Christianity and how to use gun from Robinson. It shows the imperialistic feature of England at that time.


Story



It was a normal Friday evening. I finished farming and went to the beach and saw a little lady in a white dress on the boat. It has been 10 years since I see a person. 10 years! Because of the 10 years of the isolation and loneliness, I forgot how to greet for a moment, and eventually remembered and spit out the word which came up in my mind.
“Hello”
I couldn’t tell what she was thinking. She didn’t look very happy meeting a stranger in this Island. She came out from the boat walked in to the beach saying anything but after a few more steps she fainted on the ground. So I moved her to my house and let her sleep in my bed. It must of been very long and tough journey wherever she is from. She does not look like me but looks more like Japanese or Chinese which I have never seen but I read it in a book.
Wherever she is come from, the fact that she came on that little boat means there’s a country near this Island. She definitely has known this Island exist and came to this place on purpose. I couldn’t stop thinking why she came to this island and how I’m going to escape this Island with the boat. She slept through the whole night, I kept checking the precious guest keeps breathing.
Next morning I woke up and there were no one but me in my house. So I was confused that if it was a dream that I met the lady the day before. I ran out to the beach and found the person with the uncertainty if it’s a dream. Thankfully, I found the boat and saw the girl coming out from the sea with a full basket of sea creatures. So I made her a fire in the house to cook it. She walked in to me and said “Thank you” She can speak English! That was a miracle. In this deserted island after 10 years in the middle of East Sea, I met a person who can speak English. I thought it must be a bless of the god. She said she is called Geumja, and she was a diver back home one of the island called Jejudo in Chosun and learnt English when she was working as a diver in Japan. She said she came to the place to run away risking her life from her family because she had to marry with someone she hasn’t even seen.
It was difficult to ask Geumja if I could take her boat because she will be trapped so many years like me if she doesn’t have the boat. But she said yeah without hesitation saying she will never want to go back to Chosun. But the boat was broken so needed to be fixed to go another journey.

One evening Geumja and I was having the fish what she caught. She is really good and fishing so once she goes in the sea, she could easily catch 10 fish in a short time. She picked up the nicely grilled fish by me with two hands and started devouring away. I wanted to teach the uncultivated young girl table manners so I gave her a knife and a fork. She scowled at me for few seconds and said something in Korean. I bet that was swearing.


She picked up a branch on the ground and snapped it in a half and then delicately removed the bone from the fish with the weird tool. And she finished the meal with it not saying anything.

After a month Geumja came, I finished fixing the boat. I was very excited to get out from the ridiculous Island. I packed all the treasure I found in the island, it did a good job when I started my business after I came back here. Of course I didn’t forget to offer some of my treasure to my best company in the island. But she said she won’t need it forever in her life.


In the story I wrote, Robinson is a little bit useless, greedy and boastful. He asserts Geumja uncultivated and tries to adapt her into his standard. But by Geumja not listening to him and showing him using chopsticks, it criticises the arrogance of Robinson in the original story.


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