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1st edition cover
|Author||James A. Michener|
|ISBN||0-394-42797-1 / 0-394-42797-1|
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Hawaii is a novel by James Michener published in 1959. Written in episodic format like many of Michener's works, the book narrates the story of the original Hawaiians who sailed to the islands from Bora Bora, the early American missionaries (in this case, Calvinist missionaries) and merchants, and the Chinese and Japanese immigrants who traveled to work and seek their fortunes in Hawaii. The story begins with the creation of the islands themselves at the dawn of time and ends in the mid-1950s. Each section explores the experiences of different groups of arrivals. The point-of-view changes with each chapter, although as the novel nears its end, these points-of-view change and coalesce rapidly culminating with the "Golden Man", who Michener describes as racially and culturally the result of the millennia of immigration to the islands.
The book has been translated into 32 languages.
The historical correctness of the novel is high, although the narrative about the early Polynesian inhabitants is based more on folklore than anthropological and archeological sources. Currently, it is accepted that, while there was immigration from Bora Bora, Hawaii was first settled from the Marquesas Islands around 400 CE; Nuku Hiva, mentioned in this section, is part of the Marquesas.
The novel tells the history of Hawaiian Islands from the creation of the isles to the time they became an American state, through the viewpoints of selected characters who represent their ethnic and cultural groups in the story (e.g., the Kee family represents the viewpoint of Chinese-Hawaiians). Most of the chapters cover the arrivals of different peoples to the islands.
Chapter 1: From the Boundless Deep
Describes the creation of the Hawaiian land from volcanic activity. Goes into flavorful detail describing such things as primary succession taking root on the island, to life finally blooming.
Chapter 2: From the Sunswept Lagoon
The second chapter follows the creation of the isles which is mentioned in the preceding chapter. The chapter begins on the island of Bora Bora where many people including the King Tamatoa and his brother Teroro are upset with the neighboring isles of Havaiki, Tahiti, etc. because they are trying to force the Bora Borans to give up their old gods, Tane and Ta'aroa, and start worshiping Oro the fire god, who constantly demands human sacrifices. Tamatoa suggests to his brother and friends that they should migrate to some other place where they might find religious freedom. After finally agreeing to this plan, his brother secretly puts fire to Havaiki to take revenge for the human sacrifices they have been demanding from Bora Borans. Later they take the canoe Wait for the West Wind and sail to Hawaii. Later some voyage back to Bora Bora to bring back with them some women and children and an idol of the volcano goddess, Pele.
Chapter 3: From the Farm of Bitterness
Follows the journey of the first Christian missionaries to Hawaii in the 1800s and their influence over Hawaiian culture and customs. Many of the missionaries become founding families in the islands, including the Hales and Whipples.
Chapter 4: From The Starving Village
Covers the immigration of Chinese to work on the pineapple and sugar plantations. The patriarch of the Kee family contracts leprosy (aka the "Chinese sickness") and is sent to the leper colony in Molokai.
Chapter 5: From The Inland Sea
Japanese workers are brought to the islands to replace Chinese laborers who begin to start their own businesses. Also covers the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Chapter 6: The Golden Men
The final chapter summarizes the changes in Hawaiian culture and economics based on the intermarriages of various groups in the islands.
In 1966, parts of the book were made into the film Hawaii (1966), starring Max von Sydow and Julie Andrews. The film focused on the book's third chapter, "From the Farm of Bitterness", which covered the settlement of the island kingdom by its first American missionaries. The film's ending, however, is inconsistent with the content of the novel.[clarification needed]
A sequel, The Hawaiians (1970), starring Charlton Heston, covered subsequent chapters of the book, including the arrival of the Chinese and Japanese and the growth of the plantations.
- "Hawaii (review)". Retrieved 2011-10-10.
- Lum, Doris (date unknown). "Michener, James A.: Hawaii" in "20th-Century American Bestsellers". University of Illinois. Retrieved on 2010-03-24 from http://www3.isrl.illinois.edu/~unsworth/courses/bestsellers/search.cgi?title=Hawaii.
- Hawaii at the Internet Movie Database