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The Sign of the Beaver Literary Qualities

Elizabeth George Speare
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Literary Qualities

The Sign of the Beaver is in many ways a retelling of Daniel Defoe's early eighteenth-century novel Robinson Crusoe, the novel Matt chooses for Attean's ill-fated reading lessons. Like Crusoe, Matt is stranded in a wilderness. But for the most part, Speare switches the roles of the white man and his Native American companion: "[Matt] remembered Robinson Crusoe and his man Friday. He and Attean had sure enough turned that story right round about." In Defoe's novel, Crusoe rescues Friday, and Friday becomes the white man's faithful servant; in Speare's novel, Matt realizes that it is always Attean who is "leading the way, knowing just what to do and doing it quickly and skillfully," while Matt, "a puny sort of Robinson Crusoe, tagged along behind, grateful for the smallest sign that he could do anything right." Defoe depicts most of the Native Americans that Crusoe encounters as ruthless...

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This section contains 275 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Sign of the Beaver Study Guide
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The Sign of the Beaver from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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