EN384D: Travel Lit
19 September 2013
Tales of the Tikongs
While reading the first half of Hau’ofa’s text, I immediately became aware of the complexity of his characterization. Hau’ofa works to interweave a larger purpose and perhaps an underlying political agenda into his character’s vivid and at times humorous personas. More specifically, Hau’ofa introduces Hiti—a character who “loves old things”(12). Through the characterization of Hiti, Hau’ofa is able to convey an important message to his audience. Hiti is a man living in present time who possesses a strong affinity to old things. By assigning Hiti to this role, Hau’ofa is working to bridge the gap between the values of modern society and of antiquity. Not only does Hiti successfully embody the ability of youth appreciating the old, but Hau’ofa is perhaps suggesting that not all elements of antiquity must be lost in societal progression; the “new” is not necessarily better than the “old”. Hiti’s character also works to shed light on a larger issue: the progressive fate of Tiko. The small island of Tiko and its inhabitants are being confronted and pressured to conform to the ways that which its larger surrounding countries operate. However, the people of Tiko remain content in keeping with tradition—their current structure. It becomes clear that the people of the Tiko community are closely tied to their past; they cherish and celebrate their ancestry.
It is also important to consider Hau’ofa’s literary voice in gaining a complete understanding of his text. Hau’ofa often writes using a silly tone-- humor in many ways propels his plotline while also simultaneously working to compel his audience; however, despite his use of humor, the content of his text remains insightful and purposeful. Similarly, the way Hau’ofa describes the functions of the Tikongs society comes across as disorderly and wacky at times, but once again this perception by no means implies that we (the audience) should view this society any less seriously. Through this seemingly chaotic community actually exists magnificent order and structure, just not in a conventional sense or in a way that we may be used to. Hau’ofa uses humor as a means to clarify this concept of difference. In the Tikong’s case—upholding the “oldness” of tradition-- does not necessarily equate to a lack of understanding or awareness by these people of what is considered to be new and current, but rather a conscious choice they are making: a preference.
Through Hiti’s character, Hau’ofa’s is allowing his audience the opportunity to “surround” themselves with “innumerable old things”(12) and travel through the past of this culture. In the same regard, I feel that Hau’ofa is commenting on the idea that in keeping with tradition, the inhabitants of Tiko are able to retain memories and in doing so preserve their history. This suggests a journey of travel through time-- one that allows the past and the present to exist within the same dimension.