Quotes

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

"How often is the term "savages" incorrectly applied! None really deserving of it were ever yet discovered by voyagers or by travelers. They have discovered heathens and barbarians, whom by horrible cruelties they have exasperated into savages.

The narrator makes this statement at the end of Chapter 4. It summarizes Melville's belief that Europeans misunderstand native culture and label it as "savage," while actually he views natives as being entirely civilized. Melville constantly encourages his readers to be more open minded by appreciating that Polynesian natives, in many ways, are superior human beings to ones who live in civilized cities. The natives treat each other kindly, honestly, and with generosity. They are more peaceful and loving than Europeans. In fact, it is the Europeans and the Americans who truly display brutality and savagery as they colonize the native world. Even though the natives do not share the same religion as Europeans, their differing religious ideas do not mean that they are simply "savages" who should be condemned by the rest of the world.