Hawaii by James Michener


Summation
Hawaii, by James A. Michener, is a novel which covers, on both a
fictional and a non-fictional level, the total history of Hawaii from its
beginning until approximately 1954. The work traces Hawaiian history from
the geological creation of the islands ("From the Boundless Deeps) to the
arrival of its first inhabitants, ("From the Sun-Swept Lagoon"), then to
the settlement of the islands by the American missionaries, ("From the Farm
of Bitterness"). In the novel, as the island\'s agricultural treasures in
pineapple and sugar cane were discovered, the Chinese were brought as
plantation workers to Hawaii ("From The Starving Village"). Years later,
when it was realized by the island plantation owners that the Japanese were
more dedicated workers, and did not feel the need to own their own lands as
the Chinese did, they too were shipped in vast amounts to Hawaii, ("From
The Inland Sea"). The final chapter deals with what Michener refers to as
"The Golden Men": Those who lived in Haw (not necessarily Hawaiians) who
contributed a great deal to the islands and their people.

Since Hawaii covers such a huge time span, there are a great many plots
and sub-plots, all of which show the different situations that each of the
many "types" of Hawaiians are confronted with. Michener uses mostly
specific, fictional details to support the general ideas of the islands and
their various people, that he conveys through Hawaii. I will go into more
detail about the plot in the "Documentation" section.

Michener\'s Hawaii is a superb example of a great work of literature.
He paints vivid literal pictures of various scenes throughout the novel.
For example, in the first chapter, the Pacific Ocean is described:

"Scores of millions of years before man had risen from the shores of
the ocean to perceive its grandeur and to venture forth upon its turbulent
waves, this eternal sea existed, larger than any other of the earth\'s
features, vaster than the sister oceans combined, wild, terrifying in its
immensity and imperative in its universal role."

Many other stylistic devices are employed; most of them fall into the
category of figurative language, (i.e. metaphors, similes, etc.). As Abner
Hale, a missionary , was teaching Malama Kanakoa, a Hawaiian ruler, to
rebuild a fish pond for the survival of the village, Malama "ordered her
handmaidens to help, and the three huge women plunged into the fish pond,
pulling the back hems of their new dresses forward and up between their
legs like giant diapers." Although it is not the most pleasant example of
a simile in Hawaii, it is used.

James Michener tells the story of Hawaii in the language of Hawaii; he
mixes, at times, English with Hawaiian, Japanese, and Chinese. As readers
may encounter these foreign words, the meanings of the words usually become
evident to them as they read. Not only does Michener explain Hawaii to a
reader in highly descriptive detail, he also makes the reader part of
Hawaii, aware that the story lines are just small examples of how life in
Hawaii really was for so many people of diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Documentation

The major events that take place in Michener\'s Hawaii follow history
closely, however, the characters, except for one, are fictional. Likewise,
most of the historical events which Michener writes about did take place
under the circumstances that he included; however, the people involved and
some of the events that take place may only resemble what actually
happened. For example, a comparison of Hawaii to actual history can be
made through selected events in each chapter of the novel. In order to
compare the events in Michener\'s Hawaii, it is necessary to recap the
events of the novel. The following selected events from each chapter will
serve this purpose.

The first chapter of Hawaii, "From the Boundless Deep", describes the
formation of the islands, very descriptively. It states that the creation
of Hawaii took place "millions upon millions of years ago, when the
continents were already formed, and the principal features of the Earth had
been decided." Although the creation is a purely fictional account, it is
known that the Hawaiian Islands are volcanic islands, and it is possible
that they were created in the way that Michener describes.

Next, in the second chapter entitled "From the Sun-Swept Lagoon",
Michener describes, once again in great detail, who the first settlers of
Hawaii were, and how and why they went there. According to Michener, they
were from the island of Bora, which is near the island of Hawaii, and
northwest of Tahiti. It is known for