Mark Twain's Letters from Hawai'i
Mark Twains letters from Hawaii are what made him famous. This first excursion out of his native US brings him pleasure and fame. Along with a period of refreshment, the experience provided him with a successful career as a lecturer and gave him material for his first book, The Innocents Abroad. He became Americas greatest comic genius, famous for his calculated exaggerations. I have tried Huckleberry Finn and couldn't get into it, but because I have now read this, I can see why people think of him as a great writer. What I love about him the most is the fact that with an addition of just a single sentence he makes a situation really funny.
Letters #1 & 2
Mark Twain: In the very begging of the book, Mark is still on the Ajax, the boat that brought him to Hawaii, in Waikiki. He explains how there was no room in any of the hotels so he was staying on the Ajax until some room is opened. He notes that the mosquitos are a constant annoyance, but “The two million I just sat on will never sing again.”
Tristan Meyer: I have never seen that many mosquitos at once, but I have seen a lot. The worst was an Island by Mackay in Australia. The kill count the next morning was fairly close to 40. The mosquitos inflicted only 10 or so bites in return. If you ask me, I'd say that was a waste of mosquitos. Mozzie High Command must have really messed up.
MT: When he explains about the the sea voyage, he says that the ship was “pitching and heaving” and that almost none of the 30 passengers came for breakfast, rather, they were leaning overboard upchucking last nights meal. Mark says he was not affected.
TM: They may have been pitching and heaving but we bounce. Our movement is equivalent to being dropped from ten feet in the air again and again, while a box full of broken china is dropped beside you. Also, a boat as large as the Ajax couldn't be moving that much unless the seas were really big, so I think it was the passengers frail stomachs and land legs that made them sick. As for us throwing up, momma gets sick regularly, and I only get sick if it has been a long time since we sailed. Nikki will get sick depending on how lurchy it is, and papa never gets sick when we're sailing.
MT: Because the Ajax was so slow, they had brought some live stock along. One animal was a pig that everybody really liked, but no one had named until a sailor started calling him Dennis. Dennis was mentioned twice a day after that, while the phrase “how many miles have we made today?” was mention only once by almost every person. On the 16th of March Dennis was secretly executed on orders of the cook, and served up for St. Patricks day dinner.
TM: We have never had that kind of pig onboard before.
MT: While in Honolulu, Mark saw many, many, many, many cats. He list the cats he saw, ending with: “... groups of cats, platoons of cats, companies of cas, regiments of cats, armies of cats, multitudes of cats, millions of cats, all fat, sleek, lazy and sound asleep.”
TM: If there were so many, where did they all go? To the humane society most likely.
MT: While Mark was writing a letter, Mr, Brown was rude enough to read over his shoulder and started ranting and raving over what a horrible place O'ahu was. He talked about “santipedes” and scorpions and red ants and mosquitos and... He says: “I wouldn't live here two months, even if I was King You-muck-a-muck, with a harem full of Hyenas.” When Mark pointed out to him that he pronounced Wahines wrong, he said “it ain't any odds, it describes some of them anyway”. Brown finished with “ oh confound Wawhoo!”
I totally disagree with Mr Brown. Hawaii is an awesome place, even if
here are “santipedes” and mosquitos. Almost all places in
the world have mosquitos. Hey,Mr Brown, it could be worse! The
mosquitos could be carrying Malaria or West Nile! As for the
“santipedes”, well, we have friends who have had a
“santipede” on board, and they made half the fuss.
Take that Mr Brown!
MT: While in Honolulu, Mark explains that there are four different types of people in Honolulu: Missionaries, Whaling Captains, Government Officials, and Natives. He was once greeted by a man as a missionary, but when he said that he wasn't a missionary, the man quickly corrected and addressed him as a captain and asked how much oil he had found, but when Mark said he wasn't a sailor, the man asked if he was a government official. Mark answered in the negative, and the man yelled “Then who the mischief are you, what the mischief are you, how the mischief did you get here, and where the thinder did you come from?” When Mark replied that he was just a tourist, the man broke down and started sobbing and saying stuff like “I've been waiting for sixteen years for this to happen.”
TM: Nowadays, most of the people on O'ahu are tourists, and they are easily identifiable by their brightly colored Hawaiian shirts and short pants,with big fat ugly sunglasses that are copies for designer glasses. They also come in big packs with a tour guide, all gobbling at perfectly normal things. Yes, on O'ahu, the invasive species is the tourist.
MT: While he was in O'ahu, Mark Twain saw the remains of an “ancient heathen temple”. He explains it in two pages, and is so sarcastic that I wouldn't be surprised if the pages started dripping. He talks about Human sacrifices and heathen gods. At the end of the paragraph he said that the missionaries did a good thing getting rid of the old ways.
TM: We say one too, and I was more looking at how the temple was built and the good craftsmanship and amount of rocks that went into it. Forget about what is was used for, and just think about how long it will stand. Even if it was used for human sacrifices, the Europeans were just as barbaric 500 years ago.