The Legend of Nanaue


TheLegend of Nanaue


The legend of Nanaue entails of an ancient Hawaiian story with plentyof meaning for local residents. The narrative explained the travailsof Nanaue, the son of a human mother and a shark father. As itemerged, Kalei was a magnificently beautiful in Waipio Valley.Therefore, it was not long before she captured the attention andimagination of the shark king. Kamohoalii ruled the waters andreigned supreme over the other sea creatures. However, a decent humanbeing would still find it alarming if they were required to show loveand affection towards inanimate objects. Consequently, Kamohoaliiresolved to use his shape-shifting ability so as to assume the formand shape of a typical man. Besides, the shark king assumed the formof a handsome tribal chief with considerable authority (Nakuina &ampKawaharada, 1994). Utilizing such guises, Kamohoalii managed to trackdown Kalei and even create formal links that eventually led tomarriage arrangements.

In due time,Kalei conceived a son who came to be called Nanaue. Kamohoaliishape-shifted back to the sea but not before warning that Nanaue bestrictly prevented from eating meat. Nevertheless, the grandfatherexposed Nanaue to meat on the mistaken premise of wanting the boy tomature into a fearless warrior. This fuelled an insatiable, voraciousappetite in Nanaue that could only be satisfied through his killingsas a shark. Within a short period, Nanaue had hunted and killed manyvillagers in Waipio Valley, Maui, and Molokai (Nakuina &ampKawaharada, 1994). Eventually, he was snared as a shark and murderedby an irate group of locals.

Severalvariations of the traditional Hawaiian legend of Nanaue have emergedover the course of time. Each variation has a uniquely imaginedaudience. Additionally, each variation has been shaped to cater tothe interests of its particular imagined audience. For instance, &quotTheShark King: A Toon Book” by Kikuo Johnson has been developedwith the juvenile audience in mind. Various writing techniques andformatting methods have been twitched so as to accommodate the needsof a primary school audience. Simple language has been used todescribe complex terms. Relatively shorter sentences can be seen inthe text compared to the other two variations. Appealing to a youngeraudience also involves the inclusion of less detail. In this regard,Johnson features fewer details in his variation of the legend ofNanaue (Johnson, 2012). At the same time, the author uses plenty ofcolorful illustrations to help his young audience visualize importantaspects of the narrative.

The Son ofthe Shark-God” by Alfons L. Korn is addressed to themulticultural audience in Hawaii. The variation endeavors to presentan objective view of the legend of Nanaue to the multinationalaudience in Hawaii. The Hawaiian region has experienced not only asteep decline in native population, but also a significant rise inwestern exploitation. Consequently, clashing cultures have beenmeshed within Hawaii. Korn has modified his variation of the legendof Nanaue to be long and descriptive. This offers the multiculturalaudience the opportunity to grasp fundamental aspects that make theHawaiian society unique (Harstad &amp Harstad, 2002). The variationattempts to cover the gaps in knowledge by explaining every newconcept contained in the narrative.

IslandTales: Nanaue’s Bite” by Robbie Hibbs focuses on theresidents of the Hawaiian Islands. The variation contains referencesto local language and other customs familiar to native inhabitants.In this regard, fewer explanations are given with regards to statedfacts. As discussed, Hawaii has experienced notable reductions in thenumber of native inhabitants. Foreign nationals have flocked into thecountry in search of employment. Therefore, it has becomeincreasingly important to preserve the rich indigenous culture (Thrum&amp Grant, 1998). Hibbs has endeavored to enshrine the legend ofNanaue in his masterpiece by making frequent reference to the localcustoms impacting essential aspects of the story.

Granted, thereare some common themes across the three retellings of the legend ofNanaue. For All three variations highlight the aspect of destiny.Kamohoalii, the shark king, had stressed the importance of preventingNanaue from consuming the flesh of any kind. For a time, Kalei wasable to service this command. Nevertheless, it was inevitable thatNanaue would eventually eat meat. Once his appetite for flesh hadbeen enhanced, it was also predictable that Nanaue would come to killresidents as a shark. Although Nanaue exercised great caution toavoid shape-shifting in public while in Maui and Molokai, it wasinevitable that residents would catch him in the act (Johnson, 2012).Therefore, it almost seems as if Nanaue was destined to meet the veryfate his parents had tried to avoid.

All threeversions also highlight the significance of family and culturalappreciation. Various details are provided in a manner that setsapart Hawaiian culture. A subtle reference is made to the fact thatHawaiian culture forbids the communal eating of male and femaleresidents. In fact, this aspect directly contributed to Nanauepartaking of flesh while in the company of his grandfather and othermale relatives. The death of his grandfather caused his stepfatherand uncles to continue supplying meat to Nanaue. The crucial aspectof family relationships is also highlighted quite prominently.Initially, the entire family had conspired to conceal detailssurrounding the actual nature of Nanaue. However, it is quite ironicthat his family still contributed to his downfall by exposing him tomeat (Thrum &amp Grant, 1998). Although his family had helped himsurvive, it also contributed to his eventual downfall.


Harstad, C. A., &amp Harstad, J. R. (Eds.). (2002). Island fire:An anthology of literature from Hawaií. Honolulu, HI:Curriculum Research &amp Development Group, and University ofHawai`i Press.

Johnson, R. K. (2012). The shark king: A toon book. New York,NY: TOON Books.

Nakuina, E. M., &amp Kawaharada, D. (1994). Nanaue the shark man&amp other Hawaiian shark stories. Honolulu, Hawaii: KalamakūPress.

Thrum, T. G., &amp Grant, G. (1998). Hawaiian folk tales: Acollection of native legends. Honolulu, Hawaii: MutualPublishing.