Study Guide

Typee Chapter 27

By Herman Melville

Chapter 27

  • 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.