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Typee

Herman Melville

Chapters 16–18

Chapters 12–15

Chapters 16–18, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

Chapter 16

Tommo remains melancholic since Toby disappeared. He feels lonely and his leg still hurts. Tommo also has concluded that he may truly be trapped in the valley. One day at the Ti with the chiefs, they hear a rumor that boats may have once again appeared in the bay. Tommo feels elated, since he thinks that Toby may have returned for him. When Mehevi sees the happiness on Tommo's face, his own expression grows severe. Tommo tries to walk towards the door to see if it could truly be Toby returning, but Mehevi orders him to sit. Kory-Kory tries to please Tommo by bringing him a pipe and some food, but Tommo feels despondent since he realizes that he truly is a captive of the Typees and that there is nothing he can do.

Tommo bundles the clothes that he brought from the ship and starts wearing Typee clothing. Tommo's bundle is tied up near the roof of his hut, with some other packages. One day, Tommo uses his needle and thread to stitch his Typee costume more tightly together. The Typees find this very amusing. He also shows them his razor and ends up shaving the head of Narmonee, a great warrior.

Chapter 17

As the days go on, Tommo's leg becomes much better. With the injury improved, he is able to walk around the valley more than before. But he is never allowed to go anywhere alone. Kory-Kory always comes with him and Fayaway usually does as well. He wants to go see the ocean, but the Typees will not let him. Wandering around the higher sections of the valley, he decides that the Polynesian natives, despite certain disadvantages, enjoy an infinitely happier life than that of the Europeans. While the life may be less intellectual, everything one needs is offered up by nature. Civilization may seem to contain blessings, but for each one it holds more evils. Furthermore, the narrator suggests, even the act of cannibalism, which seems atrocious, could be compared to certain barbaric European acts, such as disemboweling—the act of ripping out and burning a person's insides before their eyes, a practice once common in England. For this reason, it is unfair to call Polynesian natives "savages." Typee natives generally act with more honesty and fairness than Americans do. The narrator never sees anyone quarreling in the community. In fact, given their high level of humanity, it might be more worthwhile for missionaries from the Marquesas to visit America than the other way around.

One day, Tommo is napping at "Ti" when he hears a loud commotion, including a musket being fired. Everyone immediately leaves the area, except Tommo and Kory- Kory. The Typees have gotten into a small altercation with the nearby Happars. The Typees are victorious, save a few minor injuries, and they return home happy in their victory.

Chapter 18

Tommo keeps doing more in the valley as he feels better. One of his favorite activities is his morning bathe with a group of girls. They are amazing swimmers and always get away when he tries to wrestle them to the stream's bottom. He also is allowed to use the canoes, but women are prohibited from doing so, as it is taboo. At Tommo's request, Fayaway is granted dispensation from the prohibition. She and Tommo ride together in the canoe. Tommo later makes her a small dress out of the calico that he brought.

Lying on his mat one day, Tommo hears everyone in the village eagerly shouting about the arrival of someone named Marnoo. Marnoo soon appears. He is a beautiful native man, about twenty-five years old, with striking tattoos up his back. He enters Tommo's house with a cloud of natives around him, all hanging on his every word. Tommo feels slightly jealous that Marnoo is getting the attention usually given to him. Tommo cannot understand much of what Marnoo says, but after a while Marnoo turns and addresses him in English. Marnoo has "taboo" status on the island, which means he can travel through the different tribal sections without being accosted. As a boy, a ship captain took him to Australia where he learned English. Tommo starts asking Marnoo about Toby and the possibility of escape. Mehevi and the other chiefs soon enter the hut, though, and become angered at Marnoo and Tommo's interaction, since they know it relates to Tommo's leaving the valley. Marnoo stops talking to Tommo and, soon after, he leaves, much to Tommo's disappointment.

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