Ishmael

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The novel, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, written by Daniel Quinn, tells the story of a young man who spent a majority of his life looking for a personal mentor for himself. He was shocked to find an advertisement in the newspaper, which vaguely said that a teacher was seeking a student. Despite thinking the ad is a fake, he goes to the address. There, he finds an empty office. He sees a gorilla in a conjoining room and realizes that the he can communicate with him telepathically. This gorilla reveals his name, Ishmael, and his experiences of the world as he has experienced it. He touches on the concept of captivity, his being obvious as he was held in a zoo. He tells the narrator that humanity is “unable to find the bars of the cage” meaning that our planet is our cage; we are restricted to a certain number of resources and space. Instead of living with this belief in mind, we live lives that seem limitless. Throughout the novel, author Daniel Quinn speaks in different ways through Ishmael to deliver this message to the audience.
Ishmael tells the narrator about Mother Culture, which tells a story that is so general, we usually do not notice it. The influences it has on the moments of everyone’s lives, however, is substantial. This story is really the relationship of humans, the world, and the gods we believe in. According to Ishmael, when we live according to a story we think is a reality, we are enacting it. The people enacting the story are what define the culture. Leavers are people who are typically in primitive cultures while takers are found in more civilized countries. Leavers are those who live on what they have, aware of the environment around them. Takers, on the other hand, will use, and sometimes ov...

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...issues relevant to today on a scale that I could see and understand more clearly than if I read the solid information in a textbook. I particularly found it interesting how Quinn could make all of the biblical references, analogies, and the ideas of Takers and Leavers apply to how we live in our current day society, despite its twelve year age. That means we have been living like this for much too long, which is a concept that is almost too scary to think about. Without thinking about it and sharing the thoughts with others, just as the story of Ishmael taught us, no difference can be made. On a scale from one to ten, I would give this book a rating of a 9. It was intriguing and kept me coming back for more, however, I think the book could be more effective if Daniel Quinn made the narrator gender ambiguous because more of the audience could relate to the character.

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