Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title Typee, A Peep at Polynesian Life

author  Herman Melville

type of work  Novel

genre  Travel literature; adventure novel

language  English

time and place written  New York, 1844–1845

date of first publication  1846

publisher  Charles Murray (England) and Putname (New York)

narrator  Tommo

point of view  First, Second, and Third Person

tone  Informative, often dotted with comic irony

tense  Past tense

setting (time)  1842

setting (place)  The Marquesas Islands located in the South Pacific Ocean

protagonist  Tommo

major conflict  Tommo's fear of remaining with the Typees

rising action  Stories about the Typee's cannibalism; fear while eating pork Toby's disappearance; the realization that he is trapped; realization that the Typees are cannibals; viewing the three human heads

climax  When Tommo realizes that he must flee

falling action  Attempts to flee at night; the false impression that Toby has arrived; Tommo's escape

themes  The negative effect of European civilization; the superiority of the natives; harsh conditions on a whaling ship

motifs  Tommo's leg injury Cannibalism Sexuality

symbols  Fayaway Tattooing The Ravine

foreshadowing  Captain Vang's lecture on island safety