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January 24, 2011

Melville's _Typee_ (Excerpt) and the Tattoo--1846, USA

Image Source: http://www.eschongut.com/newadditions/images/TYPEE.jpg

"One calls 'barbarism' whatever he is not accustomed to." ~Michel de Montaigne, "Of Cannibals" (1587)

Students, using the direction I provided in some handouts I gave you previously, please type your entry-ticket discussion questions for this reading in the comment box below. These questions will be . . .

. . . fair game for the midterm and final exam. In addition to submitting the question to English-blog.com, the question must also be submitted to Turnitin.com. You should also have it written in your Course Journal (collected at midterm and at the final), and have a typed, printed hardcopy to bring with you to class on the day the work is discussed (see syllabus). I will not accept late submissions so mind the deadlines.

Posted by lhobbs at January 24, 2011 12:48 PM

Readers' Comments:

Dana Jennings
Dr. Hobbs
Entry Ticket #1: Typee
Is Melville depicting race in the derogatory fashion on purpose, or is his attitude a product of his time?
A) Melville depicts the characters in such fashions because he is looking at actual events in his lifetime through a lens of 1850’s American society. This results in the race relations being distorted in a pre-civil war era mindset. In his societal constraints, Melville is true to his knowledge and characterizations in his depictions of race.

Posted by: Dana Jennings at January 24, 2011 01:16 PM

How does Tommo’s attitude toward the natives differ from those of his American companions?
Tommo is at first apprehensive to the openly cannibalistic natives. From the reading I developed a deeper understanding of the psyche of the narrator. It is my opinion that Tommo felt repressed by his own culture and the native culture gave him a sense of freedom. His attitude toward the society is a rather interesting dynamic. He longs for the freedom that he desperately dreams of however; the harsh reality of the brutal nature of the natives scares him. The respect that he has for the Typee culture differs significantly from his counterparts. His companions see them as nothing more than brutes.

Posted by: patricia at January 24, 2011 01:17 PM

In what way does Melville portray the natives? Do you think his depiction is overly racist and insensitive or acceptable for the time period in which he wrote?

Posted by: Greg Robinson at January 24, 2011 01:19 PM

In Melville's Typee, how is it that the native tatooist is so enamored at the prospect of tattooing a white man, an outsider?

Posted by: Douglas Phillips II at January 24, 2011 04:19 PM

"If Tommo is not sure that he will ever leave/escape, why not just accept his situation and get the tattoo(s)?"

Posted by: Chad W. at January 24, 2011 06:08 PM

Emmanuel Cruz
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 340
January 24, 2011
Discussion Question
Tommo is an outsider to the culture he is visiting. Thus, he must embrace it carefully and respectfully. He is offered to get a facial tattoo, which means a lot to this native tribe. He refuses to embrace this tribe by declining to get his face tattooed. His refusal is a direct insult to the native people. Therefore, can the tribe take Tommo’s life, and see it as a reestablishment of respect and honor?

Posted by: Emmanuel Cruz at January 24, 2011 06:59 PM

Why is the narrator refusing to mark himself as a Typee if he believes that the Typee people are superior to the Europeans? What is the argument for this conclusion?

Posted by: Tara McLoughlin at January 25, 2011 02:23 PM

In Melville’s Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life, the author presents the reader with a view of colonialism and exploration that is generally contradictory to the popular European mindset of the time. How does Melville portray the Europeans in relationship to their effect on the native culture? Why do you feel this is significant?

Posted by: Lindsay Renner at January 26, 2011 10:32 AM

Entry Ticket #1 - In Typee, Tommo is horrified of being tattooed. What does this say about Melville’s overall opinion of tattoos?

Posted by: William Kopnek at January 26, 2011 10:35 AM

What is the significance of the tattooist wanting to leave his mark on white skin? Does the indicate that that the tattooist is wanting to spread his own cultural beliefs?

Posted by: Eric Dirth at January 26, 2011 10:55 AM


*NOTE* The deadline for this particular assignment has now passed. Any comments listed below are *ONLY* for the reposting of comments that I specifically asked to be revised or are ones from non-student posters. Any 'student' posts below that missed the assignment deadline will not get credit for the assignment.

~ Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at January 28, 2011 01:14 PM

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