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Typee

Herman Melville

Character List

Plot Overview

Analysis of Major Characters

Tommo  -  The narrator. He is an adventurous fellow in his early twenties who longs for liberty so much that he flees his whaling ship in order to live amongst the natives. He also is a fairly open minded American. He is able to appreciate and accept the native culture for its refinement and nobility, unlike many other Europeans and Americans who simply dismiss it as heathen without any appreciation of its arts.

Read an in-depth analysis of Tommo.

Toby -  Toby is a young, quiet man who agrees to accompany the narrator on his adventure. We are told that Toby speaks rarely, but that he smiles and never speaks of his past. During their adventure, Toby serves primarily to complement the narrator's character. Their opinions and perspectives frequently are contrary to one another. For example, while Toby believes that they are heading into the Happar valley, Tommo thinks it likely belongs to the Typees. When Tommo feels happy in the valley, Toby remains distrustful of the people around him. Toby's character is not as fully developed as Tommo's, but he does remain a loyal friend who is inadvertently separated from Tommo in the end.

Read an in-depth analysis of Toby.

Fayaway -  Fayaway is the beautiful maiden with whom Tommo falls in love. Fayaway has blue eyes, olive skin, and long dark tresses. She represents the ultimate in innocence and beauty in the Typee landscape. Her character is an allusion to Eve in Eden. Like the first woman, Fayaway fully captivates Tommo with her loveliness. Some critics, however, have noted that Fayaway's character is never developed, so she remains a largely symbolic figure whose inner thoughts remain hidden.

Read an in-depth analysis of Fayaway.

Kory-Kory -  The man appointed to be Tommo's servant. Kory-Kory is a kind, industrious fellow who constantly attends to Tommo. His character is slightly comic because he is always running around pantomiming to Tommo when Tommo does not understand. Kory- Kory's appearance itself is slightly comic as he is heavily tattooed and has a shaven head except for two large tufts of hair that flop about. Despite his comic role, Kory-Kory is faithful and kind, always caring for Tommo.
Mehevi -  The most important chief of the Typees. Mehevi's status amongst the Typees is similar to that of a king. Mehevi is a noble and dignified figure whom everyone, including Tommo, treats with respect. Mehevi is also friendly. Tommo spends almost every afternoon sitting and eating with him because he so enjoys Mehevi's company. Mehevi is a classic "noble savage," someone so dignified that they do not need the trappings of civilization to demonstrate the fine person within. His stature speaks for itself.

Read an in-depth analysis of Mehevi.

Marheyo -  The senior man in the house where Tommo lives. Marheyo is kind and sympathetic. He often gives Tommo compassionate glances when they are around the house. In the final scene, it is Marheyo who insists that Tommo should be free because he needs to return to "home" and "mother."
Tinor -  The very industrious wife of Marheyo. Tinor is an expert at preparing "poee- poee" the classic breadfruit dish of the island. Tommo believes that she is perhaps the hardest working person in the whole valley. Aside from profiling her culinary skills, her character is not developed.
Namonee -  A Typee warrior whose head Tommo shaves. Later Namonee is injured in a battle with the Happars. His character is not further developed.
Marnoo -  A native who enjoys "taboo" status and who is able to therefore wander around the island. Marnoo is an elegant person who possesses a dignified stature as well as sexually alluring qualities. Tommo feels attracted to Marnoo just like all the Typees do. Marnoo is described as a Polynesian "Apollo." Marnoo ultimately is also a kind figure because it is he who tells other natives that Tommo is amongst the Typees, which eventually leads to Tommo's rescue.
Captain Vangs -  The Captain of the Dolly. Captain Vangs is a cruel captain who overworks his crew and fails to care for their needs. Captain Vangs's heartlessness can be contrasted with Mehevi's generosity. While Captain Vangs tries to enslave his crew in a barren landscape without food, Mehevi offers up food and feasts to his people in the lush Polynesian valley. Captain Vangs's name even sounds harsh.
Mow-Mow -  A fierce one-eyed chieftain who appears several times, mostly at the very end of the book. Mow-Mow is a threatening figure who primarily serves to contrast with the gentler nobility of Chief Mehevi. The expression of Mow-Mow's ferocity is the final image we receive of the Typees. It is not consistent with the peaceful image that has been developed throughout the book.
Karakoee -  The native man who comes to rescue Tommo. Little is know about him except that he lives around the Nukuheva Bay and interacts frequently with the Europeans there. Because he helps to free Tommo, he appears to be a good, friendly figure.
Jimmy -  An old European sailor who settled down on the islands and who speaks the native Polynesian tongue. He often interprets for the Frenchmen. He also enjoys "taboo" status, allowing him to travel through the island with no harm from the natives. Jimmy appears to be an unkind figure, since he basically trades Toby away to a whaling ship with no consideration that Tommo will be trapped.
Kolory -  The chief priest of the Typees. He presides over the Feast of the Calabashes and frequently conducts rituals with Mon Artu, the chief Typeean God.
Karky -  The Typee tattoo artist. His character is not developed, although he frequently expresses his enthusiasm for having Tommo tattooed.
Mowanna -  The puppet King placed in power by the colonial French to rule the Marquesas.
Rear Admiral Du Petit Thouars -  The French admiral who has recently taken control of the Marquesas Islands. It is suggested that he is a brutal figure, although he is just briefly mentioned.

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