More than an impressive travelogue or discerning psychological perspective, this novel is also a chronicle of two friends who jump ship expecting to find paradise on the Marquesas Islands of the Pacific. They find, instead, a group of cannibals. When Tom (he comes to be known as "Tommo" to the Typees) and his friend Toby discover the natives are cannibals, they are continuously wary of their status in this alien society. Tommo's careful observations tell him that the Typees are generous with one another; they do not cheat nor steal; no part of their community is left starving or indigent because of debt or poverty. He begins to understand, with the help of his "serving-man" Kory-Kory that, as long as he remains in their company, his life-style will consist of a relative peacefulness. Tommo reflects on the dubious cross-cultural account of the inhabitants as heathen savages and believes that such a description was given by missionaries and merchantmen who failed to realize the quality of the native customs.
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December 08, 2008
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