Study Guide

Typee Chapter 10

By Herman Melville

Chapter 10

  • 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.