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Mehevi is the supreme chief of the Typees. He is almost the King of the Typees, if such a position existed. As the noble and dignified Typee leader, Mehevi is the best example of the true "noble savage" within Melville's novel. The idea of the noble savage stems from the philosophy of Rousseau, who suggested that men who live closer to nature are superior to men who live in civilization. As the dignified chief of the Typees, Mehevi embodies nobility and gravity. His mere appearance itself demonstrates his refinement. He has a striking profile and bears his stature elegantly. His face is tattooed after the custom of the natives and he usually wears a necklace of boar tusks. Although these trappings may differ from the velvet robes that adorn European kings, Mehevi is no less noble. In fact, he may be more noble. The effective leadership of Mehevi appears superior to the harsh European leaders profiled in the text, since he does not use violence and oppression in order to lead his people. It is Mehevi's innate nobility that commands respect. The other Typees follow his command and move out of his way as he walks. Tommo himself comes to respect him.
In addition to his nobility, Mehevi actually is a very kind character. Although he could theoretically order the killing of Tommo at any time, he is actually one of the nicest people to Tommo. He takes an active interest in Tommo's affairs. He feeds him with the tastiest morsels. Tommo so likes him that he spends almost every afternoon with him in the Ti. Mehevi also kindly grants almost all of Tommo's requests, including giving permission for Fayaway to go in a canoe, letting him visit the ocean on the day that he escapes, and not making him get a tattoo. Overall, one gets a positive impression of Mehevi because of his nobility and kindness. One tends to view him, as the characters do, with respect.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Typee!