Literature Study GuidesTypeeChapters 9 10 Summary

Typee | Study Guide

Herman Melville

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Typee | Chapters 9–10 | Summary



Chapter 9

The pair continue down the ravine, following the stream and hoping it will lead them out into a valley. On the fourth day, now extremely hungry, they use slippery roots to climb down the side of a waterfall. At one point they are forced to jump into the branches of a palm tree to get beyond another fall. Their journey comes to a stop as they exit the ravine and find the valley that lies at the bottom of a three hundred foot waterfall. They spend another miserable night at the top of the fall and then climb down it the next morning to the foot of the valley.

Chapter 10

They work their way through the jungle into the valley, worrying as they go about how the islanders will receive them. They finally reach a clearing with a few fruit trees and desperately devour the few remaining rotten old fruits. They catch sight of a local boy and girl in the trees and are able to make tentative contact with them by offering cotton cloth. The boy and girl lead the narrator and Toby through the trees and down into the village. They are received with much commotion as the entire village surrounds them and leads them to a hut.

In the hut, through much miming and limited vocabulary, they learn that the village is in fact a Typee village. The narrator and Toby immediately begin denouncing the Happar in hopes that the Typee will view them as friends. An exchange of names works as a sign of friendship and the narrator—Tommo—and Toby are fed. After an interlude where the islanders try to communicate with the men, everyone goes to sleep.


The narrator and Toby's route is more arduous than expected. The two will consistently find themselves in conflict with nature as they underestimate their surroundings and the difficulty of surviving on the island. Despite the extent of their difficulties and their physical conditions, however, they persevere and manage to miserably make their way out of the ravine.

However, their troubles are still not at an end. There is a dense jungle to navigate, and they have trouble finding the village. The narrator characterizes Toby's nature as an incautious one, though the narrator has not displayed much more caution himself. As they work their way into the valley, the narrator comments that Toby "began to manifest a degree of caution I had little expected from him." At this point a role-reversal happens, and Toby begins to have hesitations about entering the valley while the narrator decides they might as well go ahead and meet their fates.

After the pair arrive in the village and are seated in a hut surrounded by locals, the narrator's name is revealed to be Tommo. In this hut, they also discover that yet another thing has gone wrong—they are not in a Happar village, but are among the Typee. At this point, the Typee seem disinclined to harm the two men, which leads the reader to wonder whether the reason the Typee are portrayed as so terrifying is because the Europeans have mostly only had contact with the Typee's two enemy tribes: the Happar and the Nukuheva.

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