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Last Reviewed on May 27, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 318


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Tommo is the narrator and protagonist of the novel, and he often read as being loosely based on Melville himself. Tommo's decision to leave the ship and live among the islanders is motivated in part by a desire to escape the constraints of "civilized" life and find a kind of "true" way of living. But he is also inclined towards risky behavior, and his attraction to the islanders is as much driven by his sense that they are dangerous as it is by the lure of living a life at odds with conventional morality.


Toby is Tommo's friend from the Dolly. He, too, decides to "run away" from the ship. Toby is described as small in frame, handsome, and, like Tommo, a kind of outsider to whaler society. Tommo sees Toby as a kindred spirit, and they bond through this adventure. In another sense, Toby can be seen as a kind of doppelgänger for Tommo: Toby's mistrust of the Typee and his desire to escape from the valley serves as a counterpoint to Tommo's fascination with the islanders.


Fayaway is Tommo's companion while on the island. Fayaway is beautiful, unaffected, and compassionate. Tommo continually compares her to European beauties and rates her figure and manners against those of society women. Tommo's pursuit of her, however, reveals a disconnect between his notion of courtship and island morality. This divergence can be seen in his determination to have Fayaway ride with him in a canoe, something that is taboo by her cultural standards. The islanders' eventual relaxation of the taboo for Tommo's sake is indicative of his special status among the islanders.


Tommo's "valet" or manservant, Kory-Kory, is a faithful attendant. While Toby thinks that Kory-Kory's attentions are simply a way to gain Tommo's favor, Kory-Kory does seem to be genuinely devoted to Tommo. Their rapport arguably goes beyond that of the standard servant-master relationship.

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