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Typee | Quotes


The natives, who looked on with savage admiration at the show, and as savage a hatred of the actors.

Narrator, Chapter 3

The narrator is describing the situation at Nukuheva bay, where the French soldiers have occupied the beach. They march out and do drills every day as a show of force meant to impress the native islanders. The islanders are impressed by the weapons and extravagant show, but they also loathe the foreigners on their shores.


A 'Tabooed Kanaka' is an islander whose person has been made to a certain extent sacred.

Narrator, Chapter 10

The narrator explains that some people can be "tabooed," meaning that a ritual has been done so that they can travel between tribes without worrying about being harmed when they are visiting an enemy tribe.


My feelings of propriety were exceedingly shocked, for I could but consider them as having overstepped the due limits of female decorum.

Narrator, Chapter 11

The women of the Typee are fascinated by the foreign appearance of the narrator. They gather around Toby and Tommo in the hut and proceed to "investigate" them in ways that make the two men feel extremely uncomfortable.


Fayaway—I must avow the fact—for the most part clung to the primitive and summer garb of Eden. But how becoming the costume!

Narrator, Chapter 11

It is not clear exactly what the meaning of "garb of Eden" is here, but the reader can assume that either Fayaway is completely naked, or she wears only some basic covering over her groin area, as in some depictions of Adam and Eve where they are wearing fig leaves. The narrator obviously is very entranced by the fact that Fayaway is beautiful and doesn't cover herself with any clothing.


Were enforced by the same dreadful penalty that secured the Hoolah-Hoolah ground from the imaginary pollution of a woman's presence.

Narrator, Chapter 12

This quote describes part of the taboo groves that women are forbidden from entering. The narrator takes on a somewhat sarcastic tone, noting that the pollution is "imaginary," which implies that he has a low opinion of this custom.


Why, the fire to cook us, to be sure, what else would the cannibals be kicking up such a row about if it were not for that?

Toby, Chapter 12

Toby and Tommo are attending their first festival with the Typee, and not understanding what is going on, they are terrified that the islanders are making preparations to cook and eat them. They think that the food they are being given is to fatten them up and the fires being started are for cooking them.


A more humane, gentlemanly and amiable set of epicures do not probably exist in the Pacific.

Narrator, Chapter 13

The narrator is describing the Typee people. He sees them as very likeable people, and when Toby points out that they are cannibals, the narrator responds that though that may be true, the tribe is still "humane" and "gentlemanly." He thinks that their reputation as being fierce and terrifying is an undeserved one.


What a striking evidence does this operation furnish of the wide difference between the extreme of savage and civilized life.

Narrator, Chapter 14

The narrator is comparing the differences between Typee life and "civilized" European life. He points out that the Typee people have much more difficulty starting a fire—they have a difficult system of rubbing sticks together every time they need a fire—than they do raising their children, which they do in a carefree way with minimal effort or obstacle. On the other side of this is the European, who has all kinds of technology enabling them to easily start a fire or do any manner of other necessities, but works like a drudge to raise and provide for their family.


These very men, kind and respectful as they were to me, were, after all, nothing better than a set of cannibals.

Narrator, Chapter 16

The Typee, whom the author so frequently idealizes and praises, are suddenly seen as questionable again after Toby's disappearance. When Toby goes missing, the narrator begins to suspect the tribe of having done something to him, and so he begins to see the Typee in a negative light again.


Young females, not filled with envyings of each other's charms ... nor ... moving in whalebone corsets, like so many automatons, but free, inartificially happy, and unconstrained.

Narrator, Chapter 17

To the narrator, the Typee girls are much more appealing and live much happier lives than the women back home who live with strict social constraints. He depicts the Typee girls as being free of jealousy as well as of restrictive clothing, showing that they are not constrained either externally or internally in the same way the narrator claims that European and American women are.


To many of them, indeed, life is little else than an often interrupted and luxurious nap.

Narrator, Chapter 20

The narrator takes an attitude of good-humored criticism in this quotation. He sees the Typee lifestyle as a lazy, unmotivated one because they do not have to work to survive.


While the poor savage soon finds himself an interloper in the country of his fathers.

Narrator, Chapter 26

The narrator frequently criticizes missionaries, and this quote is directed at the missionaries who "civilize" the local people while also taking their land and impoverishing them. He seems to feel sympathy for the native people who are colonized and forced to live as foreigners on their ancestral land.


The abominations of Paganism have given way to the pure rites of the Christian worship—the ignorant savage has been supplanted by the refined European!

Narrator, Chapter 26

The context of this quotation is the decay of the culture and society in Hawaii. The author is making this statement with extreme sarcasm. In his eyes, the "civilization" selfishly brought by the missionaries and occupiers to Hawaii has only caused problems and decay in Hawaiian culture.


In the darkest nights they slept securely, with all their worldly wealth around them, in houses the doors of which were never fastened.

Narrator, Chapter 27

The islanders live a life that is free from worry of crimes being committed against them. The narrator notes that none of them worry about their houses being broken into or about having anything stolen. They have little wealth and don't place value on or lust after the wealth of their neighbor.


Civilization does not engross all the virtues of humanity: she has not even her full share of them.

Narrator, Chapter 27

This statement embodies the narrator's feelings about colonization and the effects of "civilization" on indigenous people. He does not see civilization as an inherently good or virtuous thing, but as a complex system of rules that often creates problems and vice in society.

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