Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Individually Necessary and Jointly Sufficient

The disjointed and oddly connected reverence of the stories in Tales of the Tikongs by Epeli Hau’ofa evokes the idea and structure of connectivity and independence. Independently, these structures and stories could not stand alone as an individual work or they would not convey the same theme Hau’ofa offers. They are individually necessary to the work, but also jointly sufficient to be seen as a whole. There is no particular structure to the individual stories and they are not obedient to a particular organization. Jointly the structure serves to both orient and disorient the reader through layers of interpretation horizontally and even inadvertently. The narrator illustrates the stories with depth and humor, which the reader functions as an outsider who comes to understand the Pacific demeanor. The reader is forced to focus on the individual and then pushed back to gain a greater understanding from a distance.
The character, Sailosi seems to conserve the traditions of the pacific as he enacts traditional aspects on his employees. From a closer reading Sailosi is an ironic character for as he presses Pacific culture on his employees, he is acting like Americans who are attempting to push their culture on the Pacific. Sailosi states:
“ Every morning I shall tell you what things we must banish from our lives, and I shall do this until I am satisfied that we have cleansed ourselves of the imperialist taint and reestablished our true Tikong selves”(51)
He even uses American metaphors, “ he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing” ( 55), unconsciously allowing American influence into his common speech.
Ironically, Sailosi is acting like the imperialist his is obliterating from his surroundings. He is denying the Manu or Pacific indifferent attitude and embracing a demeanor of western imperialism but forcing his employee to be traditional. A closer reading reveals how even the attitude of the natives can be influenced by the western culture. Like, Plato’s apology the reader must apply a deeper reading into the subtle characters and deeper layers of dialogue to fully grasp the true behind the speech.
As the reader connects to each individual character through the individual anecdotes, he can finish the book with a hermeneutic reaction and appreciation for the people. The book must be taken as a whole to completely and fully understand the Pacific. The reader not only understands the reaction of the Pacific natives to the western influence, but also the individual traditions of the Island ways. The stories together must be seen as a whole to grasp the traditions and even demeanor of the indigenous people of the pacific.

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