The Hawaiian Islands and Ukuleles

Hawaiian Islands - History

An archepelago and the most isolated island group on Earth, the Hawaiian Islands are located almost midway between the continental United States and Japan. Originally known as the Sandwich Islands, the Hawaiian Islands take their name from the largest island in the group, the Big Island of Hawaii. The other human-inhabited islands are Kauai, Maui, Oahu, location of the state capitol of Honolulu, and the popular Waikiki district), Molokai, and Lanai. Hawaii is the exposed peaks of a huge undersea mountain range known as the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain, formed by volcanic activity over a hotspot in the Earth's mantle.

Because there is no written record concerning the early history of the Hawaiian Islands, there are competing theories about how the islands originally came to be settled. One of the more accepted theories is that the Hawaiian Islands (before they were the Hawaiian Islands, natch) were originally settled by the Menehune (from the Marquesas Islands), followed by settlers from Tahiti. All theories maintain that the earliest settlements were by Polynesians who traveled thousands of miles across the Pacific in canoes.

In the early 19th century, Kamehameha I, used force and foreign weaponry to unite the Hawaiian Islands individual chiefdoms. The Kamehameha dynasty came to an end in 1872 with the death of Kamehameha V.

American commercial interests led to increasingly close ties with the United States, until an 1874 treaty between the United States and Hawaii gave the U.S. exclusive trading rights with Hawaii.

In 1898, the United States president William McKinley signed the Newlands Resolution which formalized the annexation of Hawaii by the United States.

In 1896, William McKinley succeeded Cleveland as president. Two years later, he signed the Newlands Resolution which provided for the official annexation of Hawaiʻi on July 7, 1898 and the islands officially became Hawaiʻi Territory, a United States territory, on February 22, 1900.

Hawaii became the 50th state of the Union on August 21, 1959.

Hawaii is a very popular destination for American and Japanese tourists seeking the allures of the tropics. A Hawaiian vacation is the perfect antidote to the stresses of the modern world.

The Ukulele

The ukulele (Hawaiian for "jumping flea") is the Hawaiian version of the cavaquinho, a small guitar-like instrument brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants.

Hawaii and Ukulele references in Gravity's Rainbow

tattered sheets of carbon paper, the scribbled ukulele chords to a dozen songs

a busted corkscrewing ukulele string

the Post Office is considering issuing a list of Nonacceptable Songs, with ukulele chords as an aid to ready identification.

and clutches at Slothrop's Hawaiian shirt, begins tightening her own grip there, and who was to know that among her last things would be vulgar-faced hula girls, ukuleles, and surfriders all in comic-book colors

every stitch of clothing he owns is gone, including his Hawaiian shirt.

That 'Hawaii I.' You know anything about that?

The Schwarzkommando use the 50 cm band--the one the Rocket's Hawaii II guidance operated on.

Nincompoop — you've been under one mountain at Nordhausen, been known to sing a song or two with uke accompaniment, and don'tcha feel you're in a sucking marshland of sin out here, Slothrop?

Ukuleles, kazoos, harmonicas, and any number of makeshift metal noisemakers accompany the song [...]

Then comes a chorus for ukuleles and kazoos and so on while everyone dances, black neckerchiefs whipping about like the mustaches of epileptic villains

Mangoes, I see mangoes on that tree over there! a-and there's a girl — there's a lotta girls! Lookit, they're all gorgeous, their tits point straight out, and they're all swingin' those grass skirts, playin' ukuleles and singing (though why are the voices so hard and tough, so nasally like the voices of an American chorus line?)

you — have won (drumroll, more gasps, more applauding and whistling) an all-expense, one-way trip for one, to the movie's actual location, exotic Puke-a-hook-a-look-i Island! (the orchestra's ukulele section taking up now a tinkling reprise of that "White Man Welcome" tune

Hawaiian References in other Thomas Pynchon Novels

References to the Hawaiian Islands and culture are explored in Vineland and Against the Day. There is also more info at

Vacationing in Hawaii

Hawaii is an ideal vacation spot. You can usually find great vacation rentals in Oahu as well as stunning oceanfront and beachfront rentals in Maui any time of year. Vacations in Kauai, as well as Molokai and Lanai are the perfect antidote to the hectic American lifestyle, and beachfront vacation rentals on the Big Island of Hawaii are almost always available.

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