The driveway up to the big house is long, here. Melville begins Typee with a discussion of what it's like to the live on the sea, and how western European governments have lately sought to bring "civilization" to various native tribes.
His fictional avatar (representative), Tom, has taken to seafaring in the name of a little adventure. But they've been on the water for a long time without sight of land, and Tom is hungering for some non-salt-preserved meat and everything else that solid ground can offer.
When it becomes clear that his captain is disinterested in spending any time land-bound, he decides to defect from the crew. His mate Toby has a similar idea, and they tromp off A.S.A.P. when the boat stops for an afternoon of R&R (that's rest and relaxation to you land lubbers) on an island in the Marquesas, which is occupied by the French. After waiting for their ship to move on, they figure they'll circle around and catch a boat back to the UK.
Predictably (and luckily for us), the plan doesn't go quite as smoothly as expected; rather, Tom and Toby's adventure on the island is just beginning. After a wretched over-land haul—including very little food and sleep, treacherous cliffs, and rain that soaks the friends to the bone—the men arrive in a valley settlement of a native tribe. Tom has sustained a semi-serious injury to his leg and is glad to have a chance to rest. Unfortunately, they're not sure if the people are Typee (rumored to be cannibals) or Happar (who have a safer, more peaceful rep). A language barrier prevents them from figuring this out. Tired and hungry and wet, they decide to risk it and accept the extravagant welcome of the native people.
At first, things are just fine. Tommo (as Tom has been dubbed by the natives) and Toby relax, eating breadfruit and sleeping in a family's hut. The women are beautiful, the men respectful, and, with careful pantomiming, the sailors and the natives can even understand each other some of the time.
However, it becomes clear that the people are indeed Typee. But they seem nice enough for the time being, so the two men decide to proceed cautiously as Tommo's leg worsens. They make a plan for Toby to head to the French-occupied bay nearby, so they gather first aid supplies, and Toby makes departure as soon as possible. His first attempt to leave the valley goes poorly, though, and he sustains an injury at the hands of a Happar weapon.
His second attempt seems to go better, as he runs with some of the Typee to meet boats arriving to the bay. But when the Typee return, they tell Tommo conflicting stories: that Toby has left, or died, or is on his way back. He does not return, and Tommo must—with a lame leg—settle in and hope for some means for escape.
As time passes, Tommo manages a pleasant kind of life, forging a special friendship with a young lady named Fayaway, and becoming friendly with Kory-Kory—his designated manservant. He learns of the plants and animals in the valley, watches the Typee weave and build, and over and over is taken aback by the beauty of the nature surrounding him. He learns about the Typee culture, visiting their hallowed temple grounds (a sort of man cave in the jungle), and the system of "taboos," or rules of conduct, for the tribe. The women, for example, are not allowed in boats, and each of the tattoos each tribal member receives has a special story or meaning.
As much fun as Tommo is having, however, his leg is improving and he's getting more and more desperate to escape. The Typee seem to want to keep him in their valley, and he slowly realizes that, though he is well-treated and quite comfortable, he is a prisoner nonetheless. Ignorant of their endgame, and with questions of cannibalism still floating in his head, Tommo becomes increasingly depressed and restless. There's been no sign of Toby, and it becomes clear that he must find a way to leave on his own.
Four months have passed since Tommo's arrived in the valley. Through a careful system of patience and planning and pretending to get a drink of water, he tries to escape. Yeah…it doesn't really work out.
But when, one day, he hears there's a boat on the nearby beach, nothing will stop him. Some of his Typee pals-captors say okay, but others give him some trouble. But Tommo is stubborn and loud and, with the sheer force of will, he is allowed to make it to the shore. There, he is greeted by an old whaling ship, which is manned by a crew that includes a Hawaiian native sailor he knows from his old ship. Although the natives still attempt to prevent him by force from leaving, with the help of a carefully placed boat hook as a weapon, he just makes it on board. Later, he's conveyed to a British whaling ship in need of a crew. There, he's taken good care of, and his leg eventually heals.
In the final chapter, Tommo reveals the fate of Toby. As he had made his way out of the valley and toward the beach, a fight broke out between Typees and Happars, with spears flying through the air. Toby attempts to wait it out, before realizing it is actually a play fight, and it's just another ruse to prevent him from meeting ships. By the time he got the beach, there were no signs of ships. But, there was an old sailor named Jimmy who had "gone native." After some negotiations with the Typee, Jimmy told Toby that he (and only he) would be allowed to leave, without Tommo. After convincing him that he had no other choice, Toby was forced to trust Jimmy, who told the natives that Toby would be back soon. After a stop at Jimmy's Happar home, Toby leaves the island, quite regretfully without Tommo, on a French boat.
An epilogue notes that Tommo was at sea for two more years after the close of this story, and that only ten days after the publication of this book, Toby and Tommo happened to meet, and thus the story of Toby's fate was added to later editions.
- We meet our narrator Tommo, an American sailor who has been at sea for six months. He describes his vessel and his bleak longing for solid land.
- On the ship there is one poor rooster left in the hen house, the hens having been killed for food earlier in the voyage. Tommo declares that, as long as the rooster is alive, Captain Vangs may hope for the taste of fresh meat, and will be less likely to take the ship into shore.
- The ship's paint is peeling and its residents are bedraggled, bored of life and bored of eating hard biscuits.
- Captain Vangs announces to the crew that they will be heading toward the Marquesa Islands, home to peoples who, despite their exposure to Europeans since 1595, remain "strange and barbarous as ever" (1.10), and are said to be cannibals.
- Although Protestant missionaries have tried to convert the Marquesan natives, they have had little luck.
- To illustrate this point, Tommo tells the story of a missionary's beautiful wife who was at first revered by the natives. Once they found out she was a woman, however, they felt cheated and made this clear. Fearful of how she would be treated, she made her husband leave the islands at once.
- On the other hand, Tommo says, the women of the island were brash, pointing to the time the queen of Nukuheva, a Marquesan island, approached a tattooed French sailor in admiration, and wanted to show him her own ink, lifting up her skirts without any semblance of European modesty.
- Now that the ship is headed for land, Tommo feels happy and relieved. He lazes around with nothing much to do.
- Tommo describes the beauty of the water and sea, and how the silence disappears as they advance closer to land and hear the call of birds.
- As the Marquesas come into view, Tommo talks about their general layout and history, particularly about the island of Nukuheva and its bay, which is the ship's destination.
- As the ship sails toward the bay, they learn that the French have taken possession of the islands and named them part of the nation. This information comes from a drunken sailor who comes up along the ship.
- Next to visit the ship is a large posse of native islanders, at first all men, then giving way to a large contingent of young and beautiful women—whom Tommo admires, comparing them to mermaids.
- As the ship comes closer to the beach, the women scale the sides of the ship and board. As night falls, they dance on its deck.
- By the time of this story, in the summer of 1842, the French have already occupied the islands for a few weeks.
- The seeming strangeness of the native culture is immediately blotted out once the sailors arrive at the beach of Nukuheva, where there are more than 100 French soldiers who have set up a very European settlement. The two peoples are coexisting without violence, if uneasily.
- The French have installed a single king of the island (the partner of the "immodest" queen mentioned earlier), even though the island is occupied by several different tribes, each of whom behave as separate countries. If the king's power is questioned, the French feel totally okay with attacking and dominating dissenters with violence.
- Tommo tells the story of the wife of the British consulate, then living on the islands, and her meeting with a band of French soldiers. When they ask to see her, wanting to raise a French flag, she says that she won't do anything until their admiral comes himself to deliver the demand. The British flag stayed waving.
- Not many days after the ship has landed at Nukuheva, Tommo decides he can't take any more time at sea. He makes his mind up to desert the crew. He had volunteered to sail for a particular amount of time under particular conditions, but it's turned out Captain Vangs is a domineering jerk.
- There was a ship called The Perseverance, Tommo says, which was long thought lost. After twenty years, it returned to port, and the sailors who had left as young men were now past middle age.
- Even though Tommo's only been at sea for fifteen months, he's feeling real antsy and a bit worried that his own ship will take a turn like The Perseverance.
- After he makes up his mind to leave, he goes about researching Nukuheva best he can, knowing that the information will come in handy once he escapes.
- The island is a kind of folded semicircle, its center the Bay, with mountains and forest on either side.
- The natives live in bamboo huts in the valleys of these mountains, and also along coastal inlets.
- On the land adjacent to the bay, live two warring tribes: the Happar and the Typee. While the Happar are supposed to be sweet and friendly, the Typee are said to be cruel cannibals who eat their victims.
- Tommo has even heard a tale of an entire crew murdered by the Typee. For obvious reasons, the French have been avoiding this tribe.
- All of this being said, Tommo wants to make a note about the use of the word "savages," and how it's a subjective term.
- The ship moves from the Bay of Nukuheva to the Bay of Tior, just a little way down the coast. Soon after they arrive, the French come to occupy it.
- Tommo watches the local chief and the French admiral approach each other, one nearly naked, the other in heavy military garb, and both, Tommo notes are "noble-looking men" (3.41).
- Now that Tommo's decided he'll escape his post on the ship, he begins to make preparations. He decides that, if he can get to the mountains and stay with the kind Happars, he can watch his ship sail off, then return to the coast and catch a ride on a different boat home. All he needs to do is avoid those fearsome Typees.
- Tommo is planning on leaving alone, and in secret, but as he's hanging out with his shipmate Toby one night, it becomes obvious that Toby is also unhappy on the ship. Tommo decides to tell him the plan, and invite him along.
- Within an hour, Toby has taken up the escape planning and the two friends spend the next day gathering information.
- Captain Vangs declares that the sailors, having been at sea for a solid six months, now deserve a day's shore leave. This is Tommo and Toby's chance to escape.
- In all the hubbub, the two sailors prepare. Tommo grabs a couple of biscuits, jerky, some tobacco, and a few yards of cloth for trading, and stuffs them inside his shirt.
- It begins to rain as the boat takes the land-headed sailors to shore, and, as they land, the rain gets heavier. The men look for shelter, in which to chill as the weather passes. Tommo and Toby take this distraction as their opportunity, and in moments they are on their way up the mountain.
- After some time, they meet a thick wall of bamboo, which slows their progress as they hack through it. They are drenched with rain and tired, but make it through.
- They take a route along the side of the mountain, and are able to see a valley populated by a native tribe (hopefully, they think, Happars.)
- Just before sunset, they find themselves at the highest peak of the mountain—good times.
- Though before it had seemed as if the valley-living tribe was close, Tommo and Toby see now that the mountain is broken into a series of ridges, and that they'll have to go up and down and up and down at near-vertical angles in order to make progress.
- Worse, the food supply is small. They had planned on encountering fruit trees by now, but…well, there are none. They have ten days until their ship moves on, and have to stay hidden until then.
- They examine their stores and divide everything into small portions, then continue on their hike.
- Arriving at a deep ravine, they discuss their options and use a series of tree roots to descend bit by bit. They stay the night at the bottom of the ravine, and get almost no sleep in torrential rain.
- In the morning, the rain has ended and they resume and eat their biscuit crumbs (mmm…crumbs…).
- The going is so slow that Tommo and Toby decide they'll figure out some place to stay, instead of dealing with all of these bad surprises.
- In another rain storm, they again find a bit of leaf-shelter and try to rest. Tommo begins to feel sick and feverish. To top it off, one of his legs is swelling as if some poisonous beast had taken a chomp when he wasn't paying attention. Unable to sleep, he brushes aside a bush and sees a settled (hopefully Happar) valley, instantly their new destination.
- Tommo wakes up Toby to tell him about the valley he's seen.
- They try to figure out whether it's Happar (good, friendly) or Typee (cruel, cannibalistic), but they realize there's no way to do so. Running out of food, and with Tommo's bum leg, they pretty much have to make for the valley.
- They make slow progress up and down each gorge, using canes and roots to help progress. When Tommo feels disheartened and sick, Toby encourages him to keep going. It's difficult for poor Tommo, but it's their only real option.
- After a day of hard-going, the two find a place to rest. In the morning, they again debate whether the valley is Happar or Typee, and what to do. But Tommo is in such a sorry state, there's no way he can pull off the day-before's exertions in reverse. So forward they go—sorry, Tommo.
- To get to the valley, Tommo and Toby must go down another ravine and spend all day doing so. It's hard going, and they camp for the night. It's been four days since they left the ship.
- The next day, they continue down the ravine, only to encounter an abyss with a hundred-foot drop. Despairing, Tommo believes it's impossible to keep going. But Toby is less easily discouraged. He figures out a system of swinging from root to root.
- When they get to the bottom, they realize that the bottom of the abyss ends in a sheer drop-off, and at Toby's encouragement (total surprise, right?), they jump from the abyss to the adjacent tree-tops, shimmying down the trees and onto safe ground below.
- That night, they sleep. When they wake they hear a nearby waterfall, which they hope will lead them to the valley. It's more bad news, however, as they see that the waterfall goes another 300 feet down into the valley. They'll have to find some way to follow it.
- Unsure of what they'll do next, they sleep restlessly and poorly.
- Then Tommo pushes forward. "I will not recount every hair-breadth escape, and every fearful difficulty [...]," he explains, saying that after five days they at last find themselves in the valley.
- Nearly starved, food is the first thing on Toby and Tommo's minds. A close second, however, is whether they're about to walk into Happar or Typee territory.
- Toby thinks they should follow the stream further down into the valley, find some fruit trees, and eat up and rest before continuing. Tommo disagrees, basically saying, "What the heck. We're here, so we might as well go in search of some native hospitality." Toby says okay, and they go on.
- Finally, the travelers find some fruit—the annuee. Even though it's a bit rotten, they have at it happily.
- Tommo finds a green branch on the ground, which looks as if it has been recently snapped: evidence of life. A few more sticks are bound together a few feet on. Toby spots two figures in the woods.
- Fashioning a white flag out of a branch and his calico cloth, Tommo moves forward quickly, telling Toby to follow him. The figures are a boy and girl, who appear scared as Toby and Tommo advance toward them. Tommo extends the flag, speaking a few words he knows in the local language.
- After the pair is able to convince the natives that they mean no harm, Tommo asks them to lead he and Toby to shelter—even as they're unsure whether the natives are Happar or Typee. Toby is sure they are Happar.
- Unsure himself, Tommo, asks Happar, motarkee? (meaning: Happar, good?). They nod, and all four continue.
- By the time they get to a long, low hut, the native peoples converge on the party, wanting to get a look at these interlopers.
- Tommo and Toby are led into a tall bamboo building, and inside they meet many locals, all tattooed and curious, including one man who is clearly a leader.
- Tommo offers the chief a gift of tobacco but he doesn't accept it. This denial makes Tommo think that they might not be Happar at all, since the Happars tend to accept such gifts. "Typee motarkee," he tries. It's the right thing to say, and the chief, named Mehevi, welcomes them.
- After an hour-long welcome ceremony, they eat a good meal of coconut, breadfruit porridge, (called "poee-poee"), and several other courses.
- As Tommo observes the natives' gawking, he realizes they may never have seen a white man before, owing the evil rep of the Typee, and how far from the shore their settlement lies. Tommo and Toby do their best to answer every question they can understand. At last, the two weary travelers are presented sleeping mats, on which they rest happily.
- Finding it difficult to sleep because of his leg injury, Tommo is anxious, thinking about what it means to be staying with the Typee (mainly, whether or not they will be eaten.)
- In the morning, the house fills with young women, gathering around Tommo and Toby, offering them food and getting a little too close for Tommo's comfort.
- Next comes a warrior in full finery, covered with tattoos. It is only after a moment that they recognize him at Mehevi, their new chief pal from the night before. They discuss, as best they can, their own home customs, and all of the business with the Nukuheva and the French.
- Mehevi notices Tommo's leg and sends for a healer, who gives Tommo a sort of overly-aggressive massage, plus some leaf-based bandages, and then leaves him to rest.
- Tommo is introduced to a young man named Kory-Kory, who will be his manservant.
- After Mehevi leaves, around sunset, it becomes clear that Tommo and Toby are staying in a household with ten or twelve residents, including Kory-Kory.
- Tommo describes the building, which is made of coconut tree trunks, reeds, and branches, with sacks hanging from the beams for what seems like storage.
- Along with Kory-Kory, the household includes his father, Marheyo (a sweet-hearted retired warrior), his mother Tinor (a kind domestic goddess always bossing around the young women of the house), and a collection of young men and women (about whom Tommo is unsure of their relation).
- One resident of the house is Fayaway, a young woman with whom Tommo becomes quickly transfixed, spending lots of real estate on the page regarding the beauty of her face, form, dress, and presence.
- Kory-Kory brings Tommo and Toby a meal, and then he convinces Tommo to sleep.
- In the morning, Tommo wakes to find Kory-Kory on one side of him and Toby on the other. All feel refreshed, and Kory-Kory leads the two men to the stream so that they may bathe.
- Afterward, Mehevi visits once again, inviting Tommo and Toby to walk with him (with Kory-Kory's help), through the village and to Hoolah Hoolah—a sacred ground where no females may pass.
- Tommo takes time to describe the grounds, with structures and verandas laid with mats, and four or five ancient tribesmen with tattoos so thick their skin is entirely one inky color. Inside a house, the Ti, they smoke a pipe with Mehevi and nap.
- Tommo wakes to find that only he and Toby are left, and that it's dark. Outside, however, tribesmen are dancing around a fire. Tommo and Toby worry and joke that this is the night they'll be eaten. The men implore them to eat what Tommo understands to be "baked baby" (12.30) but happily, it is a baby pig. They next morning, they return to Marheyo's hut without having been eaten—good times.
- As time goes on, Tommo and Toby must sit with the discomfort that, no matter how welcoming the Typee are, they still might be cannibals.
- Tommo's leg is getting worse, and it's clear that they'll have to go for help to procure some western medicine. He asks Toby if he'll go for help in Nukuheva, perhaps coming back by boat, and Toby accepts, despite having reservations.
- Kory-Kory and the other villagers object loudly once they understand what Toby is planning to do, but Tommo gestures to his worsening leg, and they agree that Toby will leave the following morning.
- Toby says goodbye, and Marheyo escorts him for a couple hours, returning once he's well on his way.
- Around noon, Tommo hears great shouts coming from outside the hut, and discovers that something has happened to Toby. The girls wail, "Awha! Awha! Toby mukee moee" ("Alas! Alas! Toby is killed!").
- Toby's body is carried into the village, his head having sustained a great blow. Tommo checks for a heartbeat and finds one, happily, then cleans the wound. Soon after, Toby wakes.
- It turns out that Toby had encountered the Happars, and ran to greet them happily—not realizing what it would mean that he was coming from the Typee valley. Bad idea, Toby. The Happar struck him, and Toby fled back down into the valley.
- It becomes clear, after this, that it will be more difficult to leave the Typee than they had previously thought. On top of this, the Typee (Kory-Kory in particular) seem to use this as proof that the two men should stay in the valley.
- While Toby's head wound heals over the next few days, Tommo's leg gets even worse. He's mostly restricted to laying on the mat in Marheyo and Tinor's crib.
- Outside, the villagers cry "botee! botee!" (14.3) and Tommo watches women and men and children harvesting and carrying fruits in baskets to the shore, to an arriving boat.
- Kory-Kory refuses to carry Tommo to the boat, but Toby resolves to go alone in order to come back and rescue him. Tommo shakes his hand au revoir, and watches the parade of villagers pass him by.
- By sunset the villagers begin to return in small groups, but there's no sign of Toby and the villagers are avoiding answering any of Tommo's questions. He finds Fayaway, who seems sympathetic, but she won't answer his questions either.
- Unsure of Toby's fate—whether he's escaped never to return, or is lying dead in a ditch somewhere—Tommo continues his daily life in the village, bathing, sitting by Fayaway, watching the young lovelies of the Typee swim in the stream, and smoking a pipe with Mehevi. We can think of worse situations to be stranded in.
- The Typee, particularly Marheyo's household, continues to take good care of Tommo, cooking him all sorts of delicacies from seaweed salad to breadfruit in every incarnation.
- Tommo takes time to describe the breadfruit, coconut, and other local flora, and their preparations.
- Even though Tommo is experiencing kindness at the hands of the Typee, he's still suspicious over Toby's disappearance and the idea that these people may be cannibals.
- More pressing is the condition of Tommo's leg, which isn't getting better at all.
- One day, as Tommo is resting in the Ti with Mehevi, he hears that there are boats approaching from the distance. He hopes Toby will return to rescue him. When he rises, thinking he will try to make it to the shore, Mehevi tells him quite sternly to sit down. Tommo understands that he is truly captive—bummer.
- Tommo also understands that most of the time, the Typee have much more information than they're willing to let on. There are exceptions, however, such as when Tommo wows Marheyo with the magic technology of a sewing needle, or when he uses his straight razor to help the great warrior Narmonee, to better shave his head.
- Tommo begins to lose track of time in the village, but while days pass his leg seems to finally heal. With this improvement comes a new clarity in his brain.
- The narrator takes some time here to offer a discussion of Christianity and "the savage": Tommo mentions that, with European and American corporal punishment, we non-savages are hardly ones to judge.
- In Typee, Tommo notes, there do not seem to be any of the anxieties he has experienced in "civilized" societies; without money, the Typee are free from labor structures. While there is some grief and strife of course, the people seem generally happier and healthier.
- Tommo wonders why the Typee and the Happar were ever at war to begin with, if the Typee are as pleasant as they seem. He feels badly for accepting the Happar and Nukuheva bias so willingly.
- One day, however, Tommo is napping in the Ti when young men with spears whip past him, yelling Happar! Kory-Kory seems to think something important is happening. A bit later he hears a musket fire, which echoes through the valley. Two hours later, the men reappear with minor injuries, having run some Happar off of Typee land.
- Now that Tommo is feeling much better, he's able to walk around. He swims regularly with Fayaway and the other young girls in a nearby lake.
- Tommo asks Kory-Kory to bring a boat to the lake, but learns that it is taboo. The girls may not swim while it is in the water. Tommo implores Kory-Kory to break the taboo, and after a bit of a lecture (that Tommo can't exactly follow), he agrees to ask the priests about it. Fayaway is then allowed to boat with Tommo on the lake, and his admiration of her builds each day.
- One day a man named Marnoo comes to the village. He is a young and handsome man with tattoos different than those of the Typee. Tommo's pride is a bit hurt when the new man ignores him and greets the adoring villagers (including his own adoptive household).
- Marnoo offers a speech to the villagers about the French and Nukuheva, and Tommo thinks he seems inordinately eloquent—though he can't really understand everything the charming stranger is saying.
- After quite some time of Marnoo politicking around the crowd, he at last approaches Tommo and asks him in English how is he doing, and how it likes it in the village. Tommo wonders if he knows what happened to Toby, and asks where he's come from. Marnoo explains that he came from Nukuheva and that he's "taboo," meaning he can go anywhere on the island and remain unharmed.
- Marnoo wants to know how Tommo came to the Typee valley, but as soon as he gets to the part about Toby, Marnoo seems uncomfortable and tries to change the subject. He tries to ask, too, why he's being held captive and if Marnoo would convince the Typee to let him go. Again, Marnoo tries to change the subject. These affairs, he explains, are not ones he can muck about in, if he hopes to remain "taboo."
- Marnoo leaves the valley, leaving Tommo without answers.
- As time goes, Tommo remains confused as to why the Typee want to keep him in the valley. It has been two months, he calculates, since he has arrived.
- Tommo shows a Typee kid how to make a little pop gun from a piece of bamboo, and for ten days hence, the village is consumed with the joy of projectiles.
- Tommo gives Marheyo a pair of his worn-out shoes, and the patriarch makes of them a kind of decorative pendant around his neck. (We hope they didn't smell too bad.)
- Here, the narrator offers a long description of "tappa," the local cloth made by the Typee, how it is made and how it is used, as well as other island nations where tappa has been notable.
- Tommo, understanding that in the valley most days are like every other day, explains his daily schedule:
- He wakes after sunrise, then bathes with Fayaway and Kory-Kory while Tinor and Marheyo take half an hour to build the day's fire.
- Then they eat a morning meal and smoke a pipe.
- Post-breakfast there are naps or minor chores, after which Tommo heads to the Ti to eat with Mehevi. After, Tommo sails around the lake with Fayaway, or goes swimming, then watches the young women dance.
- At last, he returns to the house of Marheyo, to eat a bit, smoke a bit, and go back to sleep. It sounds like a real grind.
- Tommo explains a mineral spring outside the village called "arva wai," or, strong water. The water tastes, he says, like a bunch of different terrible things all in one, but the Typee seem to use it as a sort of medicine.
- Coming back from the spring one day, Tommo discovers a large rock terrace set into the side of a high hill, made up of several large rocks, something like the side of a pyramid. These have been here since the beginning of history, Kory-Kory later explains.
- Tommo finds this discovery interesting, and wonders about the full human history of the Marquesas as a result.
- Each of the huts in which the Typee dwelt sat on a large stone foundation, and these too appear to have predated the Typee.
- Since Tommo's leg has healed, he's been making daily visits to Mehevi at the Ti, to eat, chill out, and be served in this no-girls-allowed center of power for the village. Each day Tommo enjoys being served, he enjoys the camaraderie of the men around him.
- One day, however, there are great preparations being made for a festival, and many Typee are attacking a large hog, to be killed and eaten. It is cooked in a pit lined with fire-hot stones and covered in palm fronds.
- Watching all of the preparations, Tommo asks Mehevi what the festival is for, but they cannot understand each other. Tommo leaves the chief to his leadership, asking Kory-Kory instead. Kory-Kory leads him to a small pyramid structure built with dry gourds, but it doesn't really clear up anything for Tommo.
- Back at Marheyo's, the patriarch is preparing his hair and tribal accessories, as are the other young men, while the women put on special costumes of blossoms strung together with tappa. Tommo sees Fayaway in this get-up and just about swoons in delight.
- Wanting to take part, Tommo finds himself covered in flower garlands and wearing a hat made of palm leaves.
- For the festival, everyone converges in front of the Ti, dancing and exclaiming happily. A feast is laid out for all, and the Typee drape themselves around, eating and smoking and celebrating.
- Here, Tommo explains a native root called "arva," which is used as a stimulant.
- Both Mehevi and Kory-Kory present Tommo special foods.
- On the second day of the festival, the villagers gather to watch bereaved widows enact a ritual, and then Tommo goes onto Hoolah Hoolah ground to listen to drummers and chanters. Tommo tries to ask again about the significance of the festival, but he and Kory-Kory can't understand each other very well.
- The festival goes on for three days.
- The festival gets Tommo thinking about religion, that the Typee practices hardly seem as terrible as the Western descriptions he's read of immolated bodies and the like.
- Tommo wonders whether a single inventive native person could author and perpetuate stories un-reflective of tribal life.
- As far as he is concerned, the Typee don't seem bothered by larger existential questions and beliefs, but he does admit that he never quite asked either, not wanting to pry.
- Despite his ignorance, he does notice a mausoleum out past the lake, covered with white tappa. The area is undisturbed, accompanied by a dead chief's effigy, sitting in a canoe. In seeing this, with Kory-Kory, Tommo is able to ask about the afterlife, which Kory-Kory describes basically as "a very pleasant place" (24.11), just slightly more pleasant than their own valley.
- Elsewhere in the village, there are other signs of religious practice: little altars spread with fruit, small
- grinning idols, and the like.
- The priests seem happy, Tommo observes, noting in particular a man named Kolory, who seems to be the leader, a warrior-priest who carries a spear and a broken club wrapped in white tappa, a symbol for the tribe's god. Middays in the Ti, Kolory leads the men in ceremony.
- Tommo explains that, though he sees signs of religion everywhere, it remains alien to him what is sacred and what is not. One day, he stops to examine an idol propped against a tree, and Kory-Kory pushes it upright. When it falls, Kory-Kory beats it a bit, then holds it up for examination. Tommo is totally confused about how to react.
- Tommo believes that the Typees aren't really that religious, that they could use some whipping into shape in this regard.
- Having been able to observe the Typee people as a whole for the first time at the festival, Tommo comes to a few conclusions, particularly that pretty much everyone seems to be beautiful and able-bodied. Even the aged have good teeth!
- Where Nukuheva men were bad-looking, and the women good, Tommo believes that the "uncontaminated" (25.7) Typee are wholly attractive, no matter the gender.
- Tommo talks about the various tones of complexion in the native people, as well as the "papa" root some females use to lighten their skin.
- He notes that explorers before him, since the sixteenth century, have written about the peoples' rare beauty.
- There are few European items in the valley, limited to things like the cotton Tommo himself brought and an old British musket in disrepair.
- As far as he can tell, Tommo says, everyone in the valley seems fairly laid-back most of the time, with those in power mixing with those not, and markers of power or class rarely visible at all.
- The one exception to this is Mehevi, and Tommo is grateful to this royal chief's good graces.
- Thinking about "King Mehevi" (26.1), Tommo discusses the polluting greed of royalty and how Mehevi is an exception.
- He also talks about the presence of matrimonial relationships. He notes that, while Marheyo and Tinor seem to be in a committed, domestic relationship, some partnered men consort with other women. Mehevi himself seems to be a bachelor, despite his meetings with one particular young lady who also has dealings with another young man, sometimes at the same time. Indeed, he says, polygamy seems to be part of the society.
- Tommo also discusses courting rituals and reproductive trends, noting that no one seems to have a lot of kids, which is typical for Polynesian communities, so far as he knows.
- In regards to death and funeral rites, Tommo that admits he is ignorant, since no one dies during his stay in the valley.
- He did, however, witness a death in Nukuheva—that of a young man. While close mourners sat by the body, the rest of the people celebrated.
- Tommo also sees three embalmed bodies, wrapped in tappa with their faces exposed. Enemies' heads are strung from the victor's homes.
- Tommo continues to estimate the population, its awareness of the self, and whether the Typee are in need of "civilization." (Yes, he thinks, but gently.)
- He is upset about the way in which missionaries seem to bring sickness, death, and degradation to island communities, and wonders whether it does any good at all. It isn't that it's not a good idea, he says, only that there are some problems in the system, as illustrated in Honolulu or the Sandwich Islands.
- Tommo is cautious about saying this, as he identifies as a Christian. He permits that he may be wrong about the whole thing, that his opinions are based on what he's seen.
- Tommo now concerns himself with explaining the concept of governance and law in the Typee Valley. "Taboo" are the only rules he's encountered, and he wonders how everything stays in such good order.
- People maintain their own property without worrying if anyone's going to steal anything, for example. They take what they need when they need it, and while there is some notion of wealth, everyone has adequate shelter and food.
- Tommo discusses the limitations of the concept of civilization: it may organize, but it doesn't allow for human kindness, which the Typee have naturally.
- The Typee are also really emotionally demonstrative, and seem to be on the same page about nearly everything, and Tommo doesn't witness one all-out fight.
- One day, Tommo has the chance to watch nearly a hundred male villagers build a dwelling. They do so intuitively, working as one.
- Women of the valley do not do such work, keeping house and crafting materials as needed, but never taking up anything too heavy.
- Tommo stops to make sure we don't think he's making things a bit more pretty on the page than they are in real life. He's not (so there!).
- Then he turns to the subject of cannibalism, pointing out that many European villains have done worse, and that even if it is so bad, the Typee are in every other respect good people.
- In order to further convince us of the Typee's kindness, Tommo describes their fishing parties, which occur after several young men have gone for two days to collect fish. The fish is divided until each household receives a packet, equitably.
- When a portion comes to Marheyo's household, they hold a midnight banquet. It is here that Tommo learns to eat fish whole, and raw (mmm…sushi).
- The natural history of the valley is next up for discussion. Tommo mentions large, rat-like dogs, big cats, and tame lizards and birds.
- Although other Polynesian islands have to deal with mosquitos all the time, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of bugs in the valley, besides a small variety of fly.
- The weather in the Marquesas, Tommo reports, is mostly fantastic, even during the rainy season, when it doesn't even rain that hard.
- Because of the climate, the coconuts grow quickly everywhere, and some Typee are able to walk up the trunk of the trees in order to make a harvest. Even some children climb the fifty-foot trees.
- Turning back to the many birds, Tommo confesses that watching them fly overhead makes him sad, and he wonders if it's because they know he's a stranger to the valley.
- After mentioning the tattoos on the Typee, Tommo describes an artist at work.
- The tattoo artist, Karky, attempts to convince Tommo to get a tattoo himself, but Tommo manages to avoid it. This makes him think about his captivity, that he could be permanently marked forever should he ever get home.
- After this first encounter, Mehevi and other chiefs team up with Karky to try to get Tommo tattooed. He continues to resist, realizing that to do so would be a gesture of conversion to the Typee religion.
- The tattoos, part of the order of taboos, seem to Tommo endlessly complicated.
- An un-tattooed Tommo stops to watch several women making tappa, and he absent-mindedly picks up a piece of fiber to pick apart. The women begin to shriek, and he realizes that the fabric they were making was taboo, which men could not touch.
- Sometimes taboos are marked with a loop of grass on a pipe, or a wreath of leaves on a tree, reserved for the gods.
- When, shortly after Toby's disappearance, Mehevi ties grass around Tommo's wrist, he is also
- pronounced taboo, and is treated with kindness ever after.
- Exactly what the word "taboo" signifies, and how taboos are deployed, remains largely a mystery to Tommo.
- Tommo knows he's been going on and on, but he wants just a bit more time to talk about the customs of the Typee.
- At Marheyo's, for instance, the whole household gathers to chant before bed, drumming with sticks.
- While the women are melodic, the men are more guttural.
- One night, Tommo sings an old folk song at the Ti, and Mehevi and the others are astounded by his voice, which is notable for its melody by Typee standards.
- After this, Mehevi often calls upon Tommo to sing, and also to shadow box with an invisible opponent, for his own delight.
- Walking by the lake one day, Tommo sees a mother dipping her infant into a stream, acclimating it to the water, teaching it to swim over several weeks.
- Tommo then goes on to talk about how Typee gals do their hair.
- Once Karky starts after him, Tommo realizes the jig is up. The Typee want to further ensconce him in the valley, and he just wants to go home.
- Although Tommo enjoys the friendship of Kory-Kory, and the beauty and devotion of Fayaway, he's becoming increasingly aware of his limitations and captivity.
- His leg begins to bother him again, and this motivates him to find a way out.
- Something else motivates him too: the discovery of one of the little hanging sacks in Marheyo's house, and what it holds: three preserved heads. Two are that of islanders, but the third is a white man's (eek!).
- Tommo's worries increase, and his mind races with the very many tales of cannibalism and murder he has heard.
- Soon after this discovery, the sounds of another battle break out. The Typee warriors return to the Ti with the bodies of their Happar enemies. Kory-Kory requests that Tommo leave, and so he does so slowly, trying to get a look at what was going on, but to no avail.
- The next day, the festival alarms are sounded. While the rest of the household leaves, Kory-Kory stays to babysit Tommo and keeps him away from the Ti the rest of the day.
- The next day, everything seems to have returned to normal, and Tommo is allowed back to the Ti.
- On his way out, he sees the banquet vessel, which recognizes from the last festival. It is draped in tappa,
- and Tommo raises a corner of the cover to reveal a human skeleton. Kory-Kory tries to convince him it's a pig, but Tommo only pretends to believe him.
- The cannibalism has been confirmed, and Tommo understands that he must leave.
- Ten days after the cannibalism was confirmed, Marnoo returns to the Typee Valley.
- Tommo asks if he can leave with him, but Marnoo says that he is taboo, and that even though white men are usually afraid to come to the valley, it seems like he has everything he needs: sleep, food, young girls.
- Tommo explains about his leg, but Marnoo cuts him off, saying that Mehevi will be upset and kill both of them. Still, Marnoo agrees to talk to his own chief, to see if Tommo could go there, then get taken to Nukuheva and on to freedom. He says this all in an angry voice, as if he is yelling at Tommo, rather than giving him an escape route.
- Tommo begins to plan, observing how he might get out of Marheyo's house undetected. Each night the door is closed, and the noise it makes when it opens tends to disturb sleepers. He resolves to get up for water, then not quite close the door behind him, only to leave thereafter.
- The night after Marnoo has left, Tommo makes his first attempt. Unfortunately, someone else gets up after him and soundly shuts the door. After this, Kory-Kory makes a point of leaving a gourd of water beside Tommo each night.
- Tommo tries again and again, but Kory-Kory rises to accompany him each time, ruining the means of escape.
- His leg worsens and most days Tommo is reduced to laying on the mat in Marheyo's, privately feeling angst out about his situation.
- Across from his hut, Marheyo is building another. Tommo watches him work.
- It is three weeks since Marnoo's latest departure and four months since Tommo first arrived to the valley.
- A one-eyed chief, Mow-Mow, appears at Marheyo's door to tell Tommo that Toby has arrived. Tommo is carried by Kory-Kory toward the Ti, while Mow-Mow explains that a boat has just arrived carrying Toby. Tommo wants to go to the shore, but no one will let him.
- Once at the Ti, Tommo tells everyone he's headed to the boat; Mehevi objects but Tommo pleads and pleads until he is finally allowed to go.
- Accompanied by several villagers, Tommo is carried by one or another, faster and faster as they make their way. They travel four or five miles until they reach another contingent of Typee.
- It is here that Kory-Kory manages to tell Tommo that the message had gotten garbled: Toby had not arrived, but rather, died.
- Tommo sees that the Typee will try to get him to turn back, now that his friend is not waiting for him. But he is determined to move forward. Though the Typee will no longer carry him, and Kory-Kory has disappeared, he moves onward with the help of a spear as crutch. He is allowed to continue.
- Marheyo approaches Tommo to let him know the Typee will release him now. "Home," he says, and "Mother." (These are the English words that Tommo has taught him.)
- Fayaway and Kory-Kory proceed, weeping, as Tommo at last arrives to the ocean, where an English whaling boat appears to be pulling out.
- Then, Tommo hears his own name called aloud. It comes from a Hawaiian chief he had met earlier at Nukuheva. The chief, who is taboo like Marnoo, attempts to purchase Tommo's freedom, but Mow-Mow and the other chiefs will not agree.
- Seeing this, Tommo decides to break free from the Typee, and several tribesmen try to prevent his escape. He gives one last goodbye to Marheyo and Kory-Kory and one last hug to a weeping Fayaway. Then he finds himself in a boat with the Hawaiian chief, being rowed out to the whaling ship.
- The Typee, led by Mow-Mow, seek to overtake him, and the rowers are forced to defend themselves.
- Mow-Mow reaches the boat, and Tommo strikes him in his neck with a boat hook, pulling him under the water.
- The boat continues, away form the shore, leaving behind the Typee at last.
- Once he is safe, Tommo learns that an Australian captain, in need of sailors, had landed at Nukuheva, where the Hawaiian chief had told about an American sailor who might be available if the captain would help broker his release. The Hawaiian chief had learned this from Marnoo.
- It would be three months before Tommo recovered entirely, still unsure of Toby's fate.
Epilogue: The Story of Toby
- Here, Tommo relates what happened to Toby after he left the village:
- As Toby was escorted out of the Typee valley, some young men decided to play a trick on him, saying that the Happar were about, throwing stones at the party. In fact, it was a ruse to waste time, as they hoped to prevent Toby from getting to the ship. He saw this and continued on, despite further protests.
- At the shore there was no boat, but a large assembly of men and women. At its center stood an old sailor named Jimmy who had an island wife and lived in Nukuheva in the king's household.
- Jimmy was a tale-teller, but he was there to collect Toby and Tommo because of a reward that had been put out for their return.
- Jimmy told Toby that he could get Toby off the island right then. Since Tommo wasn't able to get to shore, Jimmy would send back a boat to fetch him the next day.
- Toby insisted on retrieving Tommo right then, but in turning to go back he found the Typee blocking his way. Toby fought to move forward, but it was no use. Eventually Jimmy got him to sit down while he talked to the Typee, who let him know that Toby could not come back. His only choice was to hike back to Nukuheva. Toby protested, but he knew he had no choice.
- Jimmy told the Typee that Toby would come back, after a brief stay in Happar country, Nukuheva.
- Once there, Toby asked for a boat to return to the Typee valley and rescue Tommo, but it turned out that Jimmy was a liar and mercenary. Toby was forced to sail without retrieving Tommo. And that's the end of the Toby recap.
- Tommo now hops off the boat in New Zealand, then makes his way home.
- At Tommo and Toby's later meeting—during which Toby's story is told—Toby talks about the nightmares he's had, like Tommo yelling at him for leaving him on the island.
- But the two friends find each other again, and both can rest, knowing neither is still on the island.
- Tommo sailed for two years after his escape, and after that he wrote and published this account. Only after its publication did he run into Toby, subsequently adding his story to a future edition. (Head on over to "What's Up With The Ending?" for a little background on this metafictional element.)