Tales of the South Pacific is a Pulitzer Prize winning collection of sequentially related short stories about World War II, written by James A. Michener in 1946. The stories were based on observations and anecdotes he collected while stationed as a lieutenant commander in the US Navy on the island of Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides Islands (now known as Vanuatu). The skipper of PT-105 met Michener while stationed at the PT boat base on Tulagi in the Solomon Islands. The stories take place in and surrounding the Coral Sea and the Solomons. Michener gives a first-person voice to several as an unnamed "Commander" performing duties similar to those he performed himself. The stories are interconnected by recurring characters and several loose plot lines (in particular, preparations and execution of a fictitious amphibious invasion code-named "Alligator") but focus on interactions between Americans and a variety of colonial, immigrant and indigenous characters. The chronology of the stories takes place from before the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942 to early 1944. Although primarily about the U.S. Navy, most of the action is shore-based, and none concerns ships larger than an LCI. The musical play South Pacific, by Rodgers and Hammerstein, was based on these stories. Characters from the stories are merged and simplified to serve the format of the musical. For example, while the coastwatcher in the musical was portrayed as an American Marine (Lt. Cable) assisted by an ex-patriate French plantation owner (Emile de Becque), in the original story ("The Remittance Man"), the coastwatcher was an English ex-patriate assisted by his native companions. This coastwatcher is a disembodied voice on a short-wave radio, and is never seen by the characters in the story until his head is found impaled on a stake by a search-and-rescue party. The character of de Becque in the short story has eight mixed-race illegitimate daughters by four different women, none of whom he married, when he meets the nurse Ensign Nellie Forbush. In the musical, he has two legitimate mixed-race children by a woman whom he had married and who had died.
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