Wednesday, September 18, 2013

KING tiKONGs: Hau'ofa Pounding His Own Chest

Hau’ofa instills humor as a lifeboat, carrying the lives of his plot and purpose to the shores of the readers.  Tales of The Tikongs unveils a hurricane of change and development.  Tiko, a small island in the Pacific, faces a rampant upheaval of the traditions and customs, which make it home for Manu, Sione, Tevita, and our other surfers.  But in this current, what board can descend and safely arrive at the shore?  Hau’ofa dictates a pace thus creating a wave for us readers to shred, but do we see the same wave of imperialistic change and ancestral oblivion that our characters do?  What I paddle out to and hopefully ride to safety are his waves of family and Church.  Hua’ofa portrays pride and Tevita’s family; both developments further our understandings of family and Church.
            Family and tradition stand in opposition to the new change. Economic development and a loss of ancestral heritage threaten the sense of family, Hua’ofa structures Tales of The Tikongs to depict this adversity.  In a difficult time we figure out how prideful the ‘family’ of Tiko is. 
            What I first noticed was the line, “No one says anything, no one does anything, for no one dares lose face,” in “The Tower of Babel” (Hau’ofa, 20).  The term ‘save face’ comes to mind when Hau’ofa uses “lose face;” this term suggests retaining respect no matter the situation or cost.  The Tikong “maiden voyage” constructs an instance of overwhelming pride.  Pride, not saying or doing anything to save face, becomes a hindrance rather than strengthening the community.  This community or family, a tightly connected and tiny Pacific island, stands firmly with pride in the face of imperialistic adversity.  This theme is continued in “Paths to Glory.”  Here family takes on rigidity along with pride.  Tevita hears from his evangelical father that, “If you walk well the Family is proud; if you stumble the Family is ashamed. If you prosper the Family rises, but if you squander your talents the family will remain poor. The Family looks to you because you’re the pinnacle of its achievement” (45).  The “Family,” with a capital ‘F’ implies its importance and rigidity. Hau’ofa develops a sense of pressure for Tevita Poto with the simple implementation of a capital ‘F.’ The content of the quote elicits a polarity, where if Tevita flourishes or falls the “Family” is “proud” or “ashamed” (45).  This extreme polarization of movement relates to pride and saving face because the “Family” reacts to each of Tevita’s actions with such stress.  Also when Mr. Poto calls Tevita the “pinnacle” of the family’s achievement, he speaks as a proud father; chirping in the warm Pacific breeze.
            Church represents several things thus far in Tales of The Tikongs, but for me the most interesting passage is when Hau’ofa writes, “serve God, and forget about truth. Truth is foreign thinking, and this is Tiko. Truth and Tiko don’t relate, and you of all people should know that” (44).  What exactly is Hau’ofa implying?  Does he suggest that Tiko, ancient tradition and custom, stand in opposition to “Truth,” development.  And can you “serve God, and forget about truth?” (44). 

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