Search Menu


Key Facts

full title ·  Typee, A Peep at Polynesian Life

author ·  Herman Melville

type of work ·  Novel

genre ·  Travel literature; adventure novel

language ·  English

time and place written ·  New York, 1844–1845

date of first publication ·  1846

publisher ·  Charles Murray (England) and Putname (New York)

narrator ·  Tommo

point of view ·  First, Second, and Third Person

tone ·  Informative, often dotted with comic irony

tense ·  Past tense

setting (time) ·  1842

setting (place) ·  The Marquesas Islands located in the South Pacific Ocean

protagonist ·  Tommo

major conflict ·  Tommo's fear of remaining with the Typees

rising action ·  Stories about the Typee's cannibalism; fear while eating pork Toby's disappearance; the realization that he is trapped; realization that the Typees are cannibals; viewing the three human heads

climax ·  When Tommo realizes that he must flee

falling action ·  Attempts to flee at night; the false impression that Toby has arrived; Tommo's escape

themes ·  The negative effect of European civilization; the superiority of the natives; harsh conditions on a whaling ship

motifs ·  Tommo's leg injury Cannibalism Sexuality

symbols ·  Fayaway Tattooing The Ravine

foreshadowing ·  Captain Vang's lecture on island safety

More Help

Previous Next

Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!