Skip over navigation

Typee

Herman Melville

Chapters 31–33

Chapters 27–30

Chapters 31–33, page 2

page 1 of 3
Summary

Chapter 31

Each night before the Typees go to bed, they chant together. This chanting can last for several hours and everyone in the household is involved. Tommo never learns exactly what purpose this chanting is supposed to serve. He assumes that it is part of a Typee religious ritual. Even though they chant, however, the natives do not sing. The first time Tommo sings for Mehevi, Mehevi appears enchanted. The Typees are musical in other ways though. Some play a small flute that makes sound with air coming from the nose. Fayaway is a particularly gifted player of this flute.

Sometimes Tommo pretends that he is boxing with people in order to entertain the chiefs. One day, Tommo sees a Typee mother teaching her young baby how to swim. He then realizes why Typees all are such good swimmers. They start as soon as they are born.

The narrator then describes the technique for making the coconut oil that Typee women rub into their hair each day to make it luxurious. He greatly admires their tresses.

Chapter 32

After everyone starts badgering Tommo about getting tattooed, he feels alone and melancholy once again. His leg injury also painfully returns. He now has been with the Typees for about three months. One day, while in this unhappy frame of mind, he returns home to find Marheyo and some other men examining a package that normally is tied to the inside roof. Tommo previously wondered what was in that package. Now he sees that it holds three shrunken human heads, shriveled and preserved. Two of the heads are native, but one is European. The men quickly rewrap the packet and Kory-Kory starts promptly offering excuses. Tommo knows what he saw however. He again starts considering his fate, since if the Typees killed that white man they might kill him. Furthermore, Tommo wonders whether the head actually belongs to Toby, but he did not look at it long enough to know whether it was Toby's.

About a week after seeing the heads, another fight with the Happars breaks out. Tommo remains in the village as the warriors all rush off. Sometime later, some injured Typees return carrying the bodies of several slain Happars. These bodies are deposited at Ti by the royal Mehevi. The other Typees surround the bodies and everyone is in an uproar. Tommo feels excited to see what will happen, but suddenly Kory-Kory touches his arm and indicates that they are going home. Tommo gestures that he does not want to go. Another fearsome looking chief, Mow- Mow, who lost one eye in a battle, angrily indicates that Tommo must leave. Kory-Kory and Tommo go. Back in the village, Tommo keeps trying to find out what is happening, but Kory-Kory watches him closely and he is not allowed to know.

The next day everyone is in a festive mood. They walk and dress up in fine clothing, as they did for the Feast of the Calabashes. They all head towards Ti, but Tommo must stay home with Kory-Kory despite his efforts to do otherwise. Later in the day, he observes that everyone has returned home explaining that the feast was not for them. He then decides that, as he had heard earlier, it is the custom for the chiefs to eat the bodies of the slain enemies, not for everyone to do so, and this likely is what they are doing now.

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!

Follow Us