Coetzee's novel is a review of "Robinson Crusoe". The novelist puts the classical novel into a new cycle.
First of all, the title reminds to the name of Defoe - to be precise it recalls his name directly because the prefix "De" is a social reference.
Knowing the context he reader can consider the role of the character "Foe" as connected o the etymological meaning of the word "foe" - that is enemy, opposition, adversary. Foe is the writer that has to publish the novel generated from Susan's recounts. He becomes an enemy for the female protagonist because of the way the writer tells about Susan's adventure that does not seem to reality. As a matter of fact, one of the most important theme is just "the gap between reality and the one".
Both novelists (Coetzee and Defoe) try to render their text realistic. As a matter of fact the two novels present a correspondence between the speaking voice, the narrator and the protagonist. in "Robinson Crusoe, the first person narration adds the illusion of reality. The protagonist - that is a man - seems to have a private diary; Robinson Crusoe is characterized as an intelligent man, able to survive in difficult situations relying only on his abilities. He is the hero and he shows the intention of communicating his adventure. In "Foe" Crusoe becomes a negative character, and he is described differently (for example he has not interest to write about his life on the island). The protagonist is a woman; Susan's point of view respects Coetzee's vision of life. The novelist chooses a female protagonist to underline the differences between the ways of thinking. Women have a reticular way of thinking, men seem to privilege a linear one. In other words, using Susan's first person narration, Coetzee wants to show a relativistic way to see the life but seen from the point of view of a woman.
The archetype has been transformed in terms of storyline: events of story has been reduced to the minimum and selected in space and time; (in modern society the time of reading is considered too). More over, the language is been simplified and according to the postmodernism technique the novel includes multicultural language (French words, songs).
The archetype is full of details that the review loses. Coetzee decides to describe emotions and sensation o make his history interesting for the reader. The reader has a central role because according to the postmodernism's point of view, he is able to understand using his mind.
The multilayer structure of Coetzee's novel shows a lot of inter-connections with other texts, and with deeper arguments (like the desire to give voice to marginal people - like a woman or Friday).
The ideal reader is able to gather and understand all aspects that the novelist wants to transmit.