How do the people of Hikueru drive Mafatu forth in Call It Courage?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Call It Courage, the people of Hikueru do not literally “drive Mafatu forth.”  That is, they do not actively and intentionally force him to leave the island.  They do not come after him with weapons, telling him that they will harm him if he does not leave.  As the book says on p. 4, “the people drove him forth.  Not by violence, but by indifference.”  Personally, I do not think that indifference is exactly the right word to use. Instead, I would say that they drive him away by their scorn for him.

Ever since the incident in which his mother died when he was young, Mafatu has been afraid of the ocean.  This is very bad for someone living on a small atoll, particularly as he is the son of the chief.  Mafatu does not participate in most of the things that men (and young men) do because those things involve the ocean and he is afraid.

Because of this, the people scorn him.  He does not fill his proper role in society.  On pages 15-17, we see how the other young men talk about him behind his back.  They say that all he can do is woman’s work.  They say that he is a coward.  Mafatu has known for a long time that people think of him in this way.  This time, when he hears Kana, Viri, and the others mocking him, he decides he has to leave and prove himself.  Their scorn for him has driven him away.

So, if you are supposed to provide the exact quote from the book here, you should say that the people of Hikueru drove Mafatu forth “by indifference.”  However, I think a better answer is to say that they drove him forth with their scorn.