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VBolognese - Analysis of Foe. Chapter 2
[author: Vera Bolognese - postdate: 2007-10-09]

Text: Coetzee, Foe
Task: Analysing Chapter II

Cultural:learning about colonialism from differeent points of view
Intertextual: Finding connections between different texts
Linguistic: Improving writing skills



The 2nd chapter is set in England. Susan is looking for a novelist who can tell her experience on the island in fiction because a story exists only if it is written and read.

Chapter 2 focuses the reader's attention on the art of storytelling and on Susan's incapacity to understand Friday. She tries very hard to know what had happened and why his tongue had been cut but Friday does not answer her.


Susan's greatest worry is to find a novelist able to tell her story on the island but Foe seems to be an unreachable ghost like the story that Friday cannot tell.


The narrator is Susan Barton, she tells Foe what happens to her and Friday through some letters.

There is an alternation of showing and telling in the making of characters. Susan examines Friday's actions and behaviour and reports them to Foe with her thoughts and reflections on the art of storytelling. 

In Foe colonialism has not got a positive connotation differently from the classical novel by De Foe. As a matter of fact the chapter focuses the reader's attention on its negative aspects: the destruction of extra-European culture, slavery, the conviction of being the best.


Moreover Susan's incapacity to communicate with Friday is a metaphor for the relationships between Europeans and others cultures: we don't understand and don't accept them.

Friday's central role reveals the Post-Modern connotation of the novel and focuses the attention on the topic of discrimination.


The letters Susan Barton exchanges with Foe bring two different points of view about the function of a novel to surface.  Susan wants a realistic novel which tells exactly what happened on the island but, at the same time, she is aware that her story is incomplete and Friday does not speak.

Will the readers accept an unfinished novel? Probably not. As a matter of fact Foe wants to set Susan's adventure on the island in a wider story context.

The message of chapter 2 is that art and literature can provide a  point of view but this does not mean that there is only that one.

Telling the truth is very difficult if not impossible and "foe"  is he who claims to tell the truth.