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The setting is Des Moines, Iowa--no, just kidding, the South Pacific, namely the area around the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands, in the years 1942-1944 during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII. The nineteen stories in the collection are narrated by an unnamed "Commander" who is an avatar for James Michener, who served in RealLife as a U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander in the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanuatu New Hebrides]] islands. The stories are loosely connected, with several characters appearing in more than one, and also by a plot thread about American plans for a fictional "Operation Alligator" against the Japanese, but the emphasis is on the long, long periods of boredom between the occasional bloody assault, and how the Americans in the south Pacific interact with the natives, other locals, and each other.

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The setting is Des Moines, Iowa--no, just kidding, the South Pacific, namely the area around the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands, in the years 1942-1944 during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII. The nineteen stories in the collection are narrated by an unnamed "Commander" who is an avatar for James Michener, who served in RealLife as a U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander in the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanuatu New Hebrides]] islands. The stories are loosely connected, with several characters appearing in more than one, and also by a plot thread about American plans for a fictional "Operation Alligator" against the Japanese, but the Japanese. The emphasis is on the long, long periods of boredom between the occasional bloody assault, and how the Americans in the south Pacific interact with the natives, other locals, and each other.

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* DownerEnding: Both Joe Cable and Tony Fry are killed in Operation Alligator. The last story finds the narrator in a graveyard, contemplating all the men fallen in battle, and wondering how the country will ever make up for the good men lost.


-> "I wish I could tell you about the South Pacific. The way it actually was. The endless ocean. The infinite specks of coral we called islands. Coconut palms nodding gracefully towards the ocean. Reefs upon which waves broke into spray, and inner lagoons, lovely beyond description. I wish I could tell you about the sweating jungle, the full moon rising behind the volcanoes, and the waiting. The waiting. The timeless, repetitive waiting."



The setting is Des Moines, Iowa--no, just kidding, the South Pacific, namely the area around the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands, in the years 1942-1944 during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII. The nineteen stories in the collection are narrated by an unnamed "Commander" who is an avatar for James Michener, who served in RealLife as a U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander in the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanuatu New Hebrides]] islands. The stories are loosely connected, with several characters appearing in more than one, and also by a plot thread about American plans for a fictional "Operation Alligator" against the Japanese, but the emphasis is on how the Americans in the south Pacific interact with the natives and other locals.

to:

The setting is Des Moines, Iowa--no, just kidding, the South Pacific, namely the area around the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands, in the years 1942-1944 during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII. The nineteen stories in the collection are narrated by an unnamed "Commander" who is an avatar for James Michener, who served in RealLife as a U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander in the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanuatu New Hebrides]] islands. The stories are loosely connected, with several characters appearing in more than one, and also by a plot thread about American plans for a fictional "Operation Alligator" against the Japanese, but the emphasis is on the long, long periods of boredom between the occasional bloody assault, and how the Americans in the south Pacific interact with the natives and natives, other locals.
locals, and each other.



* OfficerAndAGentleman: "An Officer and a Gentleman" actually subverts this in the case of Lt. Harbison, who emotionally manipulates and then rejects two nurses on their island outpost.

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* OfficerAndAGentleman: "An Officer and a Gentleman" actually subverts this in the case of Lt. Harbison, who emotionally manipulates and then rejects two nurses on their island outpost. (And later stories further underline Harbison's personality as a drunkard, a coward, and a liar.)



* SwitchingPOV: Most of the stories are narrated by the unnamed commander, but not all. "The Milk Run" is narrated by Lt. Bus Adams, who's telling his story to the commander.

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* SwitchingPOV: Most of the stories are narrated by the unnamed commander, but not all. "The Milk Run" is narrated by Lt. Bus Adams, who's telling his story to the commander. Some stories are straight third-person omniscient, like "Our Heroine". And sometimes the commander, while narrating in first person, somehow lurches into third-person omniscient, like when he's describing the thought processes of the clever Japanese officer trying to repel the American landing.


* TheNiedermeyer: Captain Kelley, the officer in charge of the supply depot for Operation Alligator. He is a nasty petty tyrant in true Niedermeyer tradition, forbidding the sailors from playing games, making everyone stop wearing ball caps. The men start making joes about Captain Bligh and the ''Bounty''. ("The Strike")

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* TheNiedermeyer: TheNeidermeyer: Captain Kelley, the officer in charge of the supply depot for Operation Alligator. He is a nasty petty tyrant in true Niedermeyer tradition, forbidding the sailors from playing games, making everyone stop wearing ball caps. The men start making joes about Captain Bligh and the ''Bounty''. ("The Strike")


** The last story, "A Cemetery at Hoga Point", mentions that Joe Cable from "Fo' Dolla'" was killed in the assault on Kuralei.
* DeathSeeker: Implied with the death of Joe Cable, who rejected Liat the Vietnamese girl in "Fo' Dolla'". Cable, described as "pretty heartsick" and "fed up with things in general", charges the Japanese recklessly at Kuralei, until he's eventually killed.
* DirtyCoward: Lt. Harbison, who talks a big game about fighting the Japanese, until it's time to actually make the landing at Kuralei. He gets himself a psychiatric discharge.



* ThematicSeries: Each story is paired with another story at the opposite end of the narrative. The first and nineteenth stories are the narrator reflecting on his experience. The second and eighteenth involve battles, the third and seventeenth involve preparation for battles. The ninth and eleventh stories both revolve around American servicemen writing letters back to women in the States. The story in the middle, tenth story "Fo' Dolla'", is unpaired.

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* ThematicSeries: Each story is paired with another story at the opposite end of the narrative. The first and nineteenth stories are the narrator reflecting on his experience. The second and eighteenth involve battles, the third and seventeenth involve preparation for battles. The ninth and eleventh stories both revolve around American servicemen writing letters back to women in the States. The story in the middle, tenth story "Fo' Dolla'", is unpaired.unpaired.
* WarIsHell: The climactic Operation Alligator, recounted in next-to-last story "The Landing on Kuralei", in which the Americans take the island but with ghastly casualties. The commander's friend Tony Fry, a kind and generous person who pops up as a character in several stories, is killed.


* In "Our Heroine" Emile mentions that his oldest daughter Latouche is married to another planter and lives on a different island. In "Wine for the Mess at Sugi", Tony Fry and the gang stop at that island and meet Latouche.

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* ** In "Our Heroine" Emile mentions that his oldest daughter Latouche is married to another planter and lives on a different island. In "Wine for the Mess at Sugi", Tony Fry and the gang stop at that island and meet Latouche.Latouche.
* DrowningMySorrows: In "The Strike", the ''Torpex'', an ammunition ship, pulls into port at the supply depot. One night it explodes, killing everyone aboard. The only survivors are two enlisted men in the infirmary, and four of the officers who were dining at the club when the ship blew up. Two of them spend the rest of the night getting blind drunk.
* FatalFamilyPhoto: In flashback. But when the ''Torpex'' explodes in "The Strike", one of the ''Torpex'' officers recounts how the captain once opened up his wallet and showed the officer a picture of his 15-year-old daughter back home.

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* TheNiedermeyer: Captain Kelley, the officer in charge of the supply depot for Operation Alligator. He is a nasty petty tyrant in true Niedermeyer tradition, forbidding the sailors from playing games, making everyone stop wearing ball caps. The men start making joes about Captain Bligh and the ''Bounty''. ("The Strike")

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* SuddenDownerEnding: "The Airstrip at Konora" is about Commader Hoag leading a frantic race to complete said airstrip in time for the scheduled flight of bombers to land on the island. In the last paragraph of the story, after the airstrip has been completed and the bombers are landing, a Japanese soldier hiding in the jungle dashes out and kills himself and Cdr. Hoag with a grenade.


* ContinuityNod: Many as stories are loosely connected.

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* ChristmasEpisode: "Wine for the Mess at Sugi", in which Tony Fry, the Commander, and Dr. Benoway go on an odyssey of thousands of miles across the ocean, from island to island, in search of some liquor for Christmas.
* ContinuityNod: Many as stories are loosely connected.connected, and characters like Tony Fry and Lt. Harbison pop up in multiple stories.


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* In "Our Heroine" Emile mentions that his oldest daughter Latouche is married to another planter and lives on a different island. In "Wine for the Mess at Sugi", Tony Fry and the gang stop at that island and meet Latouche.


* LifeWillKillYou: In "Dry Rot", a soldier named Joe falls in love with a girl named Alice back in the States. He is heartbroken to hear that she was killed in a car accident.

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* LifeWillKillYou: In "Dry Rot", a soldier named Joe falls in love with a girl named Alice back in the States.States, all via mail. He is heartbroken to hear that she was killed in a car accident.


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* TheMunchausen: "Passion" recounts how Lt. Harbison and Dr. Benoway went on a flight to a supply depot to pick up fresh vegetables for the men on the base. The plane suffered engine failure, the pilot had to ditch, and they were left in a life raft for four days before they were rescued. Dr. Benoway gets a look at Lt. Harbison's letter home and is appalled to read how he described their adventure. Harbison tells his wife in the letter that they went on a dangerous combat mission, they were shot down by Japanese fighter planes, and they were in the life raft for fifteen days before they were rescued.


* BuxomIsBetter: Joe Cable notes Liat's beautiful breasts when they make love for the first time. Later, Jacques the gross French planter who is marrying Liat makes the "hourglass" gesture as he's bragging about her.

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* BuxomIsBetter: In "Fo' Dolla'", Joe Cable notes Liat's beautiful breasts when they make love for the first time. Later, Jacques the gross French planter who is marrying Liat makes the "hourglass" gesture as he's bragging about her.



* NoOneGetsLeftBehind: "The Milk Run" is narrated by a pilot who crashes in a channel between two Japanese-held islands. He's left bobbing in the channel, kept afloat by his life vest, subject to rifle fire from each shore. An enormous effort to rescue him ensues. First a whole squadron of P-40s strafe the Japanese positions. Then a flight of Marine [=F4Us=] on the direct order of an admiral, who strafe the Japanese and drop the pilot a life raft. Then a PBY amphibious plane, which attempts to rescue him but gets shot up and sunk by the Japanese, leaving the crew of the PBY adrift in the channel with him. Still more waves of fighters assault the Japanese islands to protect the Americans in the channel. Finally two PT boats show up and rescue the pilot and the PBY crew. The pilot eventually totals things up and concludes that the Navy lost a P-40 fighter, lost a PBY, used up the available operational hours of several fighter squadrons, altered operational plans after diverting the PT boats, and spent over $600,000, all to rescue him.

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* NoOneGetsLeftBehind: "The Milk Run" is narrated by a pilot who crashes in a channel between two Japanese-held islands. He's left bobbing in the channel, kept afloat by his life vest, subject to rifle fire from each shore. An enormous effort to rescue him ensues. First a whole squadron of P-40s strafe the Japanese positions. Then a flight of Marine [=F4Us=] [=F4Us=], on the direct order of an admiral, who strafe the Japanese and drop the pilot a life raft. Then a PBY amphibious plane, which plane attempts to rescue him but gets shot up and sunk by the Japanese, leaving the crew of the PBY adrift in the channel with him. Still more waves of fighters assault the Japanese islands to protect the Americans in the channel. Finally two PT boats show up and rescue the pilot and the PBY crew. The pilot eventually totals things up and concludes that the Navy lost a P-40 fighter, lost a PBY, used up the available operational hours of several fighter squadrons, altered operational plans after diverting the PT boats, and spent over $600,000, all to rescue him.



* SwitchingPOV: Most of the stories are narrated by the unnamed commander, but not all. "An Officer and a Gentleman" is told in third-person. "The Milk Run" is narrated by Lt. Bus Adams, who's telling his story to the commander.

to:

* SwitchingPOV: Most of the stories are narrated by the unnamed commander, but not all. "An Officer and a Gentleman" is told in third-person. "The Milk Run" is narrated by Lt. Bus Adams, who's telling his story to the commander.


* ContinuityNod: In "Our Heroine" the French plantation owner mentions meeting a man named Anderson on Malaita. That's a nod to previous story "The Cave" in which Anderson is TheVoice, having stayed behind after the Japanese captured Malaita, radioing intelligence to the Allies from the jungle.

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* ContinuityNod: Many as stories are loosely connected.
**
In "Our Heroine" the French plantation owner mentions meeting a man named Anderson on Malaita. That's a nod to previous story "The Cave" in which Anderson is TheVoice, having stayed behind after the Japanese captured Malaita, radioing intelligence to the Allies from the jungle.jungle.
** Lt. Harbison the dishonest American officer is introduced in "An Officer and a Gentleman", where he romances two nurses before rejecting them both. "Our Heroine" mentions both nurses before focusing on one, Nellie, who finds real love elsewhere. That story also mentions how Harbison went down in the Pacific when a supply plane crashed, only to be rescued from a lifeboat by an American ship. Later story "Passion" mentions both Harbison and a doctor who was on the crashed plane, who remembers the story in greater detail.



* MoralGuardians: In "Passion", both Lt. Harbison and Dr. Benoway are very concerned when, while censoring sailors' mail, they run across an extremely pornographic letter from a sailor to his wife. The sailor himself is quite confused when Dr. Benoway calls him in for a talk, pointing out that the woman is his ''wife'' and there's nothing wrong with writing her a sex letter.



* ThematicSeries: Each story is paired with another story at the opposite end of the narrative. The first and nineteenth stories are the narrator reflecting on his experience. The second and eighteenth involve battles, the third and seventeenth involve preparation for battles. The story in the middle, tenth story "Fo' Dolla'", is unpaired.

to:

* ThematicSeries: Each story is paired with another story at the opposite end of the narrative. The first and nineteenth stories are the narrator reflecting on his experience. The second and eighteenth involve battles, the third and seventeenth involve preparation for battles. The ninth and eleventh stories both revolve around American servicemen writing letters back to women in the States. The story in the middle, tenth story "Fo' Dolla'", is unpaired.


* BuxomIsBetter: Joe Cable notes Liat's beautiful breasts when they make love for the first time. Later, Jacques the gross French planter who is marrying Liat makes the "hourglass" gesture as he's bragging about her.



* NationalGeographicNudity: The French authorities in the area have sequestered all the women of the islands on the island of Bali-hai, so the Allied servicemen in the islands can't rape them. Lt. Joe Cable has occasion to visit Bali-hai, and is bowled over by the sight of dozens of topless Polynesian and Asian women.

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* NationalGeographicNudity: The French authorities in the area have sequestered all the women of the islands on the island of Bali-hai, so the Allied servicemen in the islands can't rape them. Lt. Joe Cable has occasion to visit Bali-hai, and is bowled over by the sight of dozens of topless Polynesian and Asian women. ("Fo' Dolla'")

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* ShrunkenHead: In "Fo' Dolla'", Joe Cable is startled when his gift of three bolts of silk cloth to a native results in the native giving Joe a shrunken head. (In RealLife shrunken heads were a South American thing and the practice was not observed in the South Pacific).

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