Monday, March 4, 2013


We all have a sense of belonging somewhere, whether it be with a group or a family or in a place. The feeling where one feels comfortable to be themselves, and somewhere or with someone they can identify with, a way to understand who they are in the world. These "feelings" can be general, or very particular, such as belonging to a certain race or country, or having a certain hair color or dressing a certain way. Everyone has a sense of who they are and their place in the world, whether it be a student in college, or a Typee in the jungle.

In Typee looking at the different groups that Tommo comes from puts him in a different group from the Natives, yet while he is there he doesn't seem to fit in with his own country men either. He is being treated well by the Natives, learning about their ways and traditions, he often talks about how peaceful they are and how he enjoys swimming with the woman, and how he plays with them. In some ways he is treated very well, they try and include him in everything, the festivals and rituals they hold, feeding him and keeping him healthy, helping him with his leg.

While Tommo never seems to assimilate completely, there are often moments where he still relates the life he is living now, to the life he had before, such as his description of Fayaway, "the hand s of Fayaway were as soft and delicate as those of any countess. . . her feet, though wholly exposed, were as diminutive and fairly shaped as those which peep from beneath the skirts of a Lima Lady's dress." (86). There is also a moment on page 219 where the Natives try to get him to get a tattoo, and he adamantly refuses, and it seems more that he opposed to the idea of what society will think of him when he returns, "and I now felt convinced that in some luckless hour I should be disfigured in such a manner as never more to have the face to return to my countrymen, even should an opportunity offer." (219).

Tommo is not part of his country at this point, yet he is refusing to wholly take on the body of the Native as well. He is stuck in between two worlds, not being able to fully decide on one or the other. He has lost all sense of belonging, for he is a captive and has lost all sense of belonging and has even portrayed that he is afraid of rejection of both. He doesn't want to become so "Native" that his countrymen will not accept him, yet he wants to please the Natives enough so that they will treat him well. He is lost and not fully in one thing or another, he is stuck in between. 

1 comment:

  1. this idea of being "stuck in between," or in a liminal space, is also really fascinating to think about in relation to our focus on games, avatars, and narratives this semester.