How does Tommo assimilate into the Typeean culture?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Toby and Tommo (as the natives call him) first arrive on the island inhabited by the Typees they find an Edenic paradise replete with lush foliage, fruit trees, and balmy weather. When the natives approach, the two men hope that they are Happars as the Typees are known to be cannibals. However, when Toby ventures to say "Happar--Good" in his limited knowledge of Polynesian, the natives "interchanged glances of peculiar meaning with one another." Then, as they are brought before the chief and asked the same question, Tommo ventures, "Typee--Good" and the Chief Mehevi responds positively, the other natives erupt in laughter and begin asking all sorts of questions.

The chief notices Tommo's injured legs and appoints a healer named Kory-Kory to assist him. Kory-Kory and his sister Fayaway are very attentive to him, feeding him and carrying him to the water to be bathed. In gratitude to this pretty girl, Tommo sews a calico dress for her with material he brought on shore. For a time, Tommo is quite content, enjoying swims with the native girls and the relaxed life of a sunny paradise. One reason he is also content is the fact that he does not constantly measure the Polynesian people against Europeans; instead, he respects their simpler life:

In this secluded abode of happiness there were no cross old women, no cruel step-dames, no withered spinsters, no lovesick maidens, no sour old bachelors, no inattentive husbands, no melancholy young men, no blubbering youngsters, and no squalling brats. All was mirth, fun and high good humour.

Further, he rejects the idea that European missionaries are beneficial to such people as the Typees.

Among the islands of Polynesia, no sooner are the images overturned, the temples demolished, and the idolators converted into NOMINAL Christians, than disease, vice, and premature death make their appearance.

In addition, Tommo also reflects upon the merchants who exploit the natives who so generously provide them with the bounty of their island.

However, when Toby leaves on a ship in order to get medical supplies, hoping to return in three days, but does not, Tommo does begin to miss his own culture and people, so he longs to return.

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