Pilgrim Path: The First Company of Women Missionaries to Hawaii

Mary Zwiep, Author
Mary Zwiep, Author University of Wisconsin Press $42.5 (376p) ISBN 978-0-299-12900-2
Paperback - 376 pages - 978-0-299-12904-0
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Zwiep offers a vivid portrait of life in Hawaii in the 1820s and 1830s by depicting the public, domestic and intellectual stories of the women who were part of the first group of missionaries to come to the Islands in 1820, just 40 years after their discovery by Captain Cook. The book also provides a classic picture of cultures in collision. The missionaries were exasperated and bewildered by--and condescending to--the islanders, whom they looked upon as indolent, sexually depraved children. For their part, the Hawaiians, a deeply spiritual people whose hulas and feasts could go on for months, never understood the perfunctory attitude of white religious practice. As churches and schools were established by the missionaries, the natives were eventually won over, not because they recognized the superiority of the white religion but because they respected its purveyors. For this, argues the author, the women were especially responsible. In this poignant telling, Zwiep, a visiting English lecturer at the University of Michigan, recovers an important story heretofore largely overlooked. Illustrated. (Oct.)
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