Literature Study GuidesTypeeChapters 5 6 Summary

Typee | Study Guide

Herman Melville

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Typee | Chapters 5–6 | Summary



Chapter 5

The narrator plans to leave the ship and escape onto the island. He deduces that he should head for higher ground, where none of the islanders live, to avoid notice and capture. While still on board that night, he notices another sailor leaning over the edge and looking wistfully at the shore. The sailor, Toby, is someone with whom the narrator has worked and whom the narrator respects and likes. The narrator asks Toby to join him, and they work out a plan for escape together. They plan to go ashore with the rest of their watch in the morning and then slip away and climb a particular mountain ridge. They will hide there until the ship leaves and then come out and try their luck with the islanders.

Chapter 6

The captain lectures the sailors before they go ashore and tries to frighten them with stories of violent islanders. Despite these warnings, the sailors prepare to go ashore. When they arrive on land, it starts to rain heavily. The men take shelter under a canoe house and fall asleep. Toby and the narrator use this opportunity to escape into the jungle. They get caught in a dense thicket of reeds that they must hack through, and then work their way upward along the ridge toward the summit of the mountain. They are spotted by the islanders, who begin shouting. Worried, they run the rest of the way up the ridge, coming out at the highest point of the island, a cliff overlooking the bay.


The narrator assumes a sarcastic tone when referring to authority figures he dislikes. Sarcasm is the main type of humor evident in Typee, and it is usually dark and sharp-edged. In Chapter 5, the narrator's sarcasm focuses on the captain of his ship. He refers to him as the "worthy captain" and as someone who feels "paternal solicitude for the welfare of his crew." These statements are intended to mean the opposite of what they state, as the narrator has called the captain a tyrant in previous chapters.

The narrator takes a relaxed attitude toward his escape, which is strange considering the risks he faces. His plans encompass only exiting the ship and finding a place to hide. He is strangely not worried about survival necessities such food and water, which he assumes will be present in abundance on the island. This lack of foresight is evident when he impulsively grabs a handful of biscuits upon leaving the boat, foreshadowing trouble to come.

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