Foreignness and the Other Quotes in Nation
How we cite our quotes:
[Daphne] had removed her dress and all but one of her petticoats. She was only three garments away from being totally naked! Well, four if you included the grass skirt." (6.170)
Remember: Daphne comes from a fairly uptight Victorian society. Clothes are a symbol of civilization. The fewer clothes you're wearing, the closer you are to savagery. (But three petticoats still seems like a long way to go.)
[The islands] are tiny and there's no one there. No one to speak of, anyway. (7.209)
What Mr. Red aboard the Cutty Wren means is that there's no one wearing pants on any of those islands. Pants are all that matters to these English folk. Pervs.
"It starts with knives and cooking pots, and suddenly we belong to the trousermen." (10.16)
Ataba is explaining to Mau how cultural assimilation starts off slow. At first, you're getting presents. Everyone loves presents! The next thing you know, you're wearing pants, and no one likes getting pants as a gift. Especially when you're forced to wear them every day. We have to say, Ataba might have a point, here.