Analysis

The last chapter moves quickly as Tommo manages to escape in a way that one would not have thought possible. Although he has dreamt of secretly sneaking off at night, he instead flees in broad daylight with groups of natives all around him. Moreover, a native from the island rescues him. This ending could scarcely be anticipated. Some critics have criticized it as implausibly dramatic. William Sedgwick, for example, finds that the "narrative climax is deeply at odds with the rest of the book." Edward Grejda notes that Melville's sudden presentation of sinister darkness emerges from his desire to end his book in a sensationalistic manner. Despite the criticism, there is no denying that the closing scene is exciting, with the crew racing out to sea and natives swimming with knives in their mouths. Although some may find the sequence implausible, it definitely represents a classic ending in the style of an adventure tale.

The presence of sinister forces amongst the Typees is noteworthy because it is new. The chieftain Mow-Mow represents the sinister Typee qualities that have not been seen before. Mow-Mow never appears in Typee until the last few chapters, starting with the cannibalistic feast. Here in the final chapter, he plays a major role—first controlling where Tommo will go and later swimming after him with a tomahawk in his mouth. With his physical appearance alone, Mow-Mow is a terrible figure, because one of his eyes was gouged out by a spear and his face is "hideously tattooed." In his final attempt to knock over Tommo's boat, Mow-Mow shows himself to be as terrifying as his countenance. After Tommo disables him with a boat hook, we are left only with the appearance of the utmost ferocity on Mow-Mow's face. It shall be our last impression of the otherwise gentle Typees.

Tommo's use of force against Mow-Mow is itself a notable demonstration of his own inner evils and we must question the meaning behind his use of force. Is Melville suggesting that Tommo has inherited some ferocity from the Typees that causes him to fight back? Or is Tommo simply acting in the true American/European fashion, using violence against the natives who have, for the most part, acted peacefully toward him, just as Europeans will use violence against the peaceful Polynesians whose territories they colonize? Different critics have proposed different answers to these questions. Tommo's final violent act, though, certainly shows his definite desire to flee. Earlier, he resisted being tattooed because he wanted to maintain his own independent identity. Here he will use a violent blow to fully emphasize his desire to remain separate. Although he took on aspects of the Typee culture when he lived among them, now he is heading home to "home" and "mother," and wants to leave it all behind. His undoing of Mow-Mow shows how much he is willing to fight to keep his original identity.

The Appendix on the "Cession of the Sandwich Islands" contains Melville's controversial and sarcastic interpretation of events that took place on the Hawaiian Islands in 1842. In actuality, a British naval officer, Lord Paulet, used force to take control of the islands after feeling disrespected by the Hawaiian monarchy. England later apologized for the incident and Paulet's actions were widely condemned. Melville's praise of Paulet may seem strange, since Paulet's arrogant and arbitrary use of force certainly seems inappropriate. Melville's commentary however is largely sarcastic and is fully pointed towards the missionaries whom Melville consistently criticizes. Although most people believe that Paulet unfairly usurped the islands, Melville praises him for giving people their liberty to sexually copulate! For Melville, Paulet freed a people repressed by leaders devoted to the ridiculous religious notions instilled by missionaries. By detailing and praising the way that open sexuality happily followed, Melville truly is rubbing the entire incident in the missionaries' faces. Melville's tone is so biting and sarcastic that it is actually quiet comic—that is, if one is not too shocked by what he is saying. Given its content though, it is not truly surprising that this entire section was edited out of the censored, "Revised American Edition."

In its first year, the concluding sequel describing Toby's flight proved a boon for Melville and his publishers. After the first edition of Typee appeared, many argued that Melville had made the entire story up. These claims became silenced when Toby reappeared. After seeing the book, Richard Tobias Green verified its truth by writing to a Buffalo, New York newspaper and later the sequel was added. Toby's account of why he fled the Typee valley briefly explains that he, much like Tommo, was rescued on behalf of another whaling ship in need of a crew. There is no way to prove if Toby's account itself is a truthful one, but its details generally match the other ones in the book. Overall, it provides a fitting end to the tale.