Skip over navigation

Melville Stories

Herman Melville

"The Encantadas" (Sketches 6–10)

"The Encantadas" (Sketches 1–5)

"The Encantadas" (Sketches 6–10), page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

In the sixth "sketch," the narrator describes Barrington Isle, once a popular resort for the West Indian Buccaneers. Barrington is one of the few inhabitable islands, boasting some vegetation and animals as well as water. The narrator recites a passage told to him by another voyager, who recalls seeing ruins at Barrington Isle. Left by the buccaneers, the ruins include stone tables, chairs and sofas, revealing the details of the buccaneers' more domestic life.

The seventh sketch tells the story of Charles's Isle. Charles's Isle is similar to Barrington Isle, being quite inhabitable, but it is much larger. After Peru's successful revolt against their Spanish rulers, Peru paid its soldiers primarily through land, the narrator tells us. One such soldier took Charles's Isle as his fee. He recruited some pilgrims and chartered a ship to colonize the island, taking with him twenty loyal attack dogs. The colony is a success at first, but soon the rather shady characters that had volunteered to help the new "King" of Charles's Island colonize his lands begin to commit crimes. He is forced to shoot a few of them, and he establishes a bodyguard from some of the best men of the colony. But even the bodyguards and then the entire colony revolt against the "king," and his dogs fight a long battle with the colonists. Finally, he is forced to surrender, and the soldier is exiled from the island. From then on, the colonists continually entrap unsuspecting sailors who stop off with their ships at the island to get supplies. This eventually causes Charles's Isle to be shunned by all but the least experienced captains.

The eighth sketch tells the story of Hunilla, the "Chola widow." The narrator's ship spots a lone woman on an island, and they pick her up. It turns out that she had been marooned on the island several months before. She and her newlywed husband, had been on a French whaler for a cruise, when they had come near the Galapagos Islands. The woman's husband and his friend wanted to stay at one of the islands and collect tortoise oil, which was considered quite valuable. The French captain agreed to set them down with some supplies and pick them up on his return trip four months later. The husband and his friend had significant luck in collecting the tortoise oil, so they decided to make a catamaran (similar to a canoe) and go fishing to celebrate. The boat sank and both men drowned. The woman, now a widow, waited for months, but the French ship never returned. The narrator and his fellow crewmembers go back to the island to pick up the tortoise oil and some of her other items, including two of the dogs the woman had brought with her. The rest of the dogs are left on the island. The narrator's ship drops Hunilla off on the mainland, where they give her the money for the tortoise oil and a little of their own cash besides.

The ninth sketch tells the story of Hood's Isle and Oberlus, a hermit. Oberlus is a former sailor who deserted to Hood's Isle. He was a "warped and crooked" old man, who lived on the island growing small potatoes and other crops that he sold to passing sailors. Eventually, Oberlus grows desirous of having power over another, and he attempts to kidnap a black slave that comes to the beach along with some sailors. His attempt fails, but later he manages to kidnap four sailors, whom he presses into service, using his musket to enforce his will. He later arms them and leads them as a band of pirates. When two ships come in, they send four small boats to get supplies from Oberlus. Oberlus tricks them, taking one boat and destroying the rest. The sailors manage to return to their ships and escape, but Oberlus now has a boat. He escapes to the mainland, to Paita, where he attempts to secure a wife and makes plans to return to Hood's Isle. But his suspicious character gives him away, and he is caught with matches in his pocket and thrown in jail.

In the tenth and final sketch, the narrator describes many of the runaways, castaways, and other human-related features of the islands, such as grave markers and messages-in-a-bottle.

Analysis

As the sketches progress, they begin to contain more "stories," which brings "The Encantadas" closer to Melville's fictional form. There are two types of stories: legends (such as the dog-king and Oberlus) and direct accounts (such as the Chola widow). Each story contains some moralistic overtones or strong symbolism.

More Help

Previous Next
Correction to the sixth section of Encantadas

by The_Great_And_Powerful_Ass, January 15, 2013

After her husband dies, the narrator speaks of two terrible things, which he should not mention, that happened to Hunilla. What are those things? They are buried in the semantics of Melville's writing, but: 1.) Hunilla actually becomes pregnant and has to try and have the baby herself because her husband and brother died on the catamaran. 2.) After she gives birth, the baby dies, and she is raped by men on a ship that boards the island. They leave after they rape her, leaving her alone again.
Not too long afterwards is when the other s... Read more

1 Comments

14 out of 16 people found this helpful

Jewish Armada

by RyanMonkeyNipple, October 17, 2014

Hey Jewish

Follow Us