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Typee

Herman Melville

Chapters 24–26

Chapters 19–24

Chapters 24–26, page 2

page 1 of 3
Summary

Chapter 24

Although Tommo still does not understand the purpose of the Feast of Calabashes, he recognizes that it has a religious connotation and this leads him to discuss religion amongst the Typees. Generally, European missionaries have condemned these natives as the religious savages, but the narrator feels that many of these claims have been overexaggerated and possibly even false. For example, rumors of natives having human bodies on their altars seems to be entirely unfounded as he witnessed nothing of the kind nor did he ever witness natives involved in overtly-evil, religious doings.

Kory-Kory helps to educate Tommo about the native religion by showing him the religious idols, or statues in the valley. Tommo sees the mausoleum of a deceased warrior-chief, seated on a carved canoe facing a lake. The canoe allows the chief, Kory-Kory explains, to paddle towards eternity.

The main God of the Typees is called "Mon Artua." He is represented with a small wooden statue, which is usually kept safe by the main priest, Kolory. Mehevi and the chieftains frequently call upon Kolory for religious rituals. Kolory then takes the idol of Mon Artu and whispers into his ear. Mon Artu does not seem to hear him, but Kolory then places him in a wooden box face down on the ground. Mehevi and the chiefs all applaud. When Kolory takes Mon Artu out of the box and talks to it again, the idol now seems to be able to talk back. This ritual is one of the more important ones.

In general, Tommo suggests that the Typees have lately been slacking in their religious beliefs, as many of their idols now appear to be rotting. On one occasion he watches Kory-Kory kick a wooden idol. Tommo believes that the native religion could use a good revival.

Chapter 25

Tommo finds the Typees to be the most beautiful native people that he ever has seen. Their complexions and hair are almost perfect. Both the men and women are spry, healthy, and beautiful, quite different from their European counterparts. Women wear their hair long and frequently adorn it with oils, as they do their skin. They wear simple Polynesian clothing, except for, on a few occasions, when some European calicos are seen. The Typees all seem to be in the same social class, with the exception of the chiefs. When a chief gives an order, it is obeyed promptly, yet still the chiefs do not live on a highly elevated plane as many other monarchies, both European and native (such as Hawaiian) demand. After a while, Tommo realizes that Mehevi is the main chieftain. Furthermore, the Ti is his palace. It still is one of Tommo's favorite places as they just sit all afternoon talking and smoking freely as one would in a bachelor pad.

Chapter 26

Tommo believes that Mehevi's status is akin to being a "King," but again notes that Mehevi's behavior is less formal than many Europeans Kings. For example, Tommo has seen Mehevi, on a few occasions, making love to a young native girl. Tommo always thought Mehevi was a bachelor, but now he knows that Mahevi has a steady relationship with this girl. Furthermore, she has a child that looks like him.

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