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Typee

Herman Melville

Chapters 34–Toby's Escape, the Sequel

Chapters 31–33

Important Quotations Explained

Summary

Chapter 34

Nearly three weeks after Marnoo leaves, news filters in to Tommo that Toby has arrived and awaits him in the bay. Tommo is elated. He immediately heads to Mehevi to get permission to see Toby. This permission is initially denied, but finally granted after extensive begging. On the way to the shore, the natives hear that Toby has actually not arrived. Tommo then is detained again in a nearby hut, until he successfully begs the one-eyed chief, Mow- Mow, to let him go. Mow-Mow will not let anyone carry Tommo though, so Tommo struggles to walk himself. After a hundred yards, Marheyo takes pity on him. He points to the water and says the two English words he knows, "home" and "mother." He orders Kory-Kory to carry Tommo, which Kory-Kory eventually does. Natives all around them are arguing as to whether Tommo should be allowed to leave, several of them disagreeing with Mow-Mow.

When they reach the ocean, Tommo sees Karakoee standing near the shore. Tommo knows Karakoee from the Nukuheva Bay. Karakoee is trying to buy Tommo's freedom, offering a gun, gunpowder, and cloth to the natives. The natives refuse to take it and some of them hold fiercely onto Tommo. Still many are arguing all around them. Tommo takes advantage of the moment to dive towards Karakoee (after embracing the wailing Fayaway). Karakoee and Tommo are both pulled onto a small boat. They immediately start rowing away.

When the natives see that Tommo is leaving, several of them place knives in their mouths and dive into the ocean. Tommo and the crew know that the Typees will try to overturn their small vessel, which they will be able to do. They row more quickly. Tommo himself grabs a boat hook as a weapon. When Mow-Mow surfaces with a tomahawk in his mouth, Tommo strikes him just below the throat. As the boat heads away, Tommo sees Mow-Mow resurfacing with a fierce expression in his face.

Once they are safe, Tommo faints. The ship he arrives at is The Julia, an Australian whaler. He discovers that Marnoo had informed Karakoee that he was with the Typees. Because the Australian captain needs crew, they came to rescue him. After briefly recovering, Tommo starts to entertain his shipmates with his adventures. As he finishes his story, he notes that he never again heard from Toby and has no knowledge of his whereabouts.

Appendix—Provisional Cession to Lord George Paulet of the Sandwich Islands

The Appendix offers a brief justification of the behavior of Lord George Paulet in the Sandwich Islands, also known as the Hawaiian Islands. Paulet's behavior had been widely criticized in America, so Melville wants to justify what he did. He explains that Paulet came to Hawaii in response to a claim that there had been abuse against resident British citizens there. The local monarchy refused to meet with him. As Paulet wandered the streets and spoke with common natives, he found widespread dissatisfaction at the overly restrictive monarchy. The Hawaiian leaders had apparently aligned themselves closely with Methodist missionaries, thereby making many natural activities illegal, such as non- marital sexual intercourse. These new laws resulted in the widespread incarceration of young girls. Additionally, many of the Hawaiian leaders were hypocritical as they actually benefited financially from the presentation of young girls to arriving European men. In response to this state of affairs, Lord Paulet took over governing the island. For the length of his annexation (about ten days), the common people rejoiced in their ability to act as they always had. Wild revelry and debauchery took place on the streets in broad daylight. Melville therefore argues that Lord Paulet actually helped the Hawaiians by freeing them from the rhetoric of the missionaries, even though public opinion has not agreed.

The Story of Toby, Sequel to Typee

This section opens with a note explaining that since the first publication of Typee, Toby has resurfaced and offered an explanation for what happened to him. On the day of his disappearance, Toby and the Typees were heading to the ocean when they come across Jimmy, an old European sailor who made Nukuheva his permanent home. Jimmy is considered taboo, and therefore can move freely around the island. Jimmy indicates that he wants to help Topy escape, and starts to assist him, all the while negotiating for Toby's freedom. After exchanging some goods, the Typees allow Toby to go. Jimmy promises that they will return soon to get Tommo, but first they must reach the bay of Nukuheva. Once they get there, Toby realizes that Jimmy basically has sold him to a new whaling ship and that no one has any intention of going back for Tommo. Although Toby does not want to leave, he is forced to go. Until he saw Typee, he had assumed that his old friend was dead.

Analysis

The last chapter moves quickly as Tommo manages to escape in a way that one would not have thought possible. Although he has dreamt of secretly sneaking off at night, he instead flees in broad daylight with groups of natives all around him. Moreover, a native from the island rescues him. This ending could scarcely be anticipated. Some critics have criticized it as implausibly dramatic. William Sedgwick, for example, finds that the "narrative climax is deeply at odds with the rest of the book." Edward Grejda notes that Melville's sudden presentation of sinister darkness emerges from his desire to end his book in a sensationalistic manner. Despite the criticism, there is no denying that the closing scene is exciting, with the crew racing out to sea and natives swimming with knives in their mouths. Although some may find the sequence implausible, it definitely represents a classic ending in the style of an adventure tale.

The presence of sinister forces amongst the Typees is noteworthy because it is new. The chieftain Mow-Mow represents the sinister Typee qualities that have not been seen before. Mow-Mow never appears in Typee until the last few chapters, starting with the cannibalistic feast. Here in the final chapter, he plays a major role—first controlling where Tommo will go and later swimming after him with a tomahawk in his mouth. With his physical appearance alone, Mow-Mow is a terrible figure, because one of his eyes was gouged out by a spear and his face is "hideously tattooed." In his final attempt to knock over Tommo's boat, Mow-Mow shows himself to be as terrifying as his countenance. After Tommo disables him with a boat hook, we are left only with the appearance of the utmost ferocity on Mow-Mow's face. It shall be our last impression of the otherwise gentle Typees.

Tommo's use of force against Mow-Mow is itself a notable demonstration of his own inner evils and we must question the meaning behind his use of force. Is Melville suggesting that Tommo has inherited some ferocity from the Typees that causes him to fight back? Or is Tommo simply acting in the true American/European fashion, using violence against the natives who have, for the most part, acted peacefully toward him, just as Europeans will use violence against the peaceful Polynesians whose territories they colonize? Different critics have proposed different answers to these questions. Tommo's final violent act, though, certainly shows his definite desire to flee. Earlier, he resisted being tattooed because he wanted to maintain his own independent identity. Here he will use a violent blow to fully emphasize his desire to remain separate. Although he took on aspects of the Typee culture when he lived among them, now he is heading home to "home" and "mother," and wants to leave it all behind. His undoing of Mow-Mow shows how much he is willing to fight to keep his original identity.

The Appendix on the "Cession of the Sandwich Islands" contains Melville's controversial and sarcastic interpretation of events that took place on the Hawaiian Islands in 1842. In actuality, a British naval officer, Lord Paulet, used force to take control of the islands after feeling disrespected by the Hawaiian monarchy. England later apologized for the incident and Paulet's actions were widely condemned. Melville's praise of Paulet may seem strange, since Paulet's arrogant and arbitrary use of force certainly seems inappropriate. Melville's commentary however is largely sarcastic and is fully pointed towards the missionaries whom Melville consistently criticizes. Although most people believe that Paulet unfairly usurped the islands, Melville praises him for giving people their liberty to sexually copulate! For Melville, Paulet freed a people repressed by leaders devoted to the ridiculous religious notions instilled by missionaries. By detailing and praising the way that open sexuality happily followed, Melville truly is rubbing the entire incident in the missionaries' faces. Melville's tone is so biting and sarcastic that it is actually quiet comic—that is, if one is not too shocked by what he is saying. Given its content though, it is not truly surprising that this entire section was edited out of the censored, "Revised American Edition."

In its first year, the concluding sequel describing Toby's flight proved a boon for Melville and his publishers. After the first edition of Typee appeared, many argued that Melville had made the entire story up. These claims became silenced when Toby reappeared. After seeing the book, Richard Tobias Green verified its truth by writing to a Buffalo, New York newspaper and later the sequel was added. Toby's account of why he fled the Typee valley briefly explains that he, much like Tommo, was rescued on behalf of another whaling ship in need of a crew. There is no way to prove if Toby's account itself is a truthful one, but its details generally match the other ones in the book. Overall, it provides a fitting end to the tale.

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