Native culture differs from European culture in that women have more than one husband or lover. Mehevi's woman, for example, lives with another man, who makes love to her as well. On certain occasions, Tommo has seen both Mehevi and the other man courting the woman at the same time. Generally, Tommo has observed that women often live with one man who first appears to be her husband, but then another man moves in as well and he becomes her lover too. Tommo believes this practice takes place because there are far fewer men than women in the Typee valley. The idea of having two male lovers is widely accepted by everyone. For example, he has often seen another man trying to make love to Tinor, the matron of his house. Even though Marheyo, Tinor's "husband," watches the whole exchange, he does not seem to care.

Although Typee women have more than one lover, it is notable that they seem to stick with certain men, rather than just sleeping with everyone. Many other native Polynesians, such as the Tahitians, tend to have no fixed relationship with any set person. Their open sexuality has led to trouble with European men. As such, large groups of Tahitian women have been killed off as a result of contracting European venereal diseases.

The narrator has never seen a death amongst the Typees, so he cannot report on the Typee practices in that regard, but he generally believes that bodies are embalmed before being buried.


This section continues with the quasi-anthropological tone of the previous section. The narrative becomes very descriptive here, with Tommo rarely even talking about himself. Instead, he details the native form of religion and the native marital practices. Both of these topics are fascinating and both, to a large extent, are meant to shock readers, especially the conservative, religious readers that Melville seems to so enjoy tormenting.

Melville's description of Typeean sexuality most obviously shows how Melville meant to shock. For us today, his entire discussion may seem mild, since sexual education is widespread today and far more racy, sexualized images litter films and television. But we must understand that readers of Melville's era did not openly speak about sex. Sex was as "taboo" in America as certain cultural practices were amongst the Typees. Melville knows that his description of sexual practices will fascinate readers, which is perhaps why he dwells upon these practices at length. Of particular interest, of course, is the ability for women to have more than one sexual partner, a practice forbidden in Christian countries. Melville's willingness to accept this practice as natural and good, although slightly intriguing, is an affront to those Christian leaders who argue that such sexual behavior is bad.

Melville's open discussion of venereal disease additionally reverses common beliefs on sexuality. First off, Melville discusses a group of natives, Tahitian women, who basically sleep with everyone that they like—a sexual practice that would be considered harlotry in Christian countries. The mere mention of such behavior might offend. But Melville takes it one step further by accepting their behavior as natural and fine. The fault lies with the European men who come as merchants and colonists and who spread venereal disease to these poor girls. Even though the disease is not actually named, Melville rather forcefully hints at it. Melville's assessment again suggests that natives would be better off if they never met up with Europeans. Furthermore, he accurately traces venereal disease to these men, whereas most preachers and missionaries would argue that those who contracted the disease did so because of their "sinful" sexual deviancy. Melville throws off such narrow-minded interpretations with his argument, and in doing so, the argument proves highly controversial.