The Significance of Ishmael

Satisfactory Essays
The Significance of Ishmael
Daniel Quinn’s novel, Ishmael, explored various lessons and stories about the origins of our society. The “teacher” was a gorilla named Ishmael who could communicate to the narrator telepathically. Ishmael not only opened the mind up of the narrator, but also made readers think in a whole different perspective. Without Ishmael, this novel would not be near as powerful and meaningful as it is now. Ishmael taught his students in a different way because of his understanding with identity, captivity, and his point of view by being a different species. Humans, as a society, don’t understand the importance of something until it is seen in a different perspective. Ishmael was the ideal character to the story because of how different he was than the average human.
Most people do not understand captivity, or at least they try not to understand. When people hear the term “captivity” their minds instantly go to the idea of animals being held captive or prisoners. Ishmael understands completely how captivity works because he was captured and put in a zoo. He was old enough to remember how it was in the wild and what it was like to be among other species. This is important because he understands the difference between the wild and civilization giving him knowledge no human could understand. Ishmael stresses how humans as a society are held captive by Mother Culture. We are stuck in “Taker Prison” and will most likely never get out of it until we start a new story. Mother Culture has taught us that the inhuman things we do like capturing other species to put on a show for entertainment are okay. When the Leaver culture was around, people went about their day not messing with any other species unless they needed it...

... middle of paper ...

...t only is a gorilla completely different from us, but it is also one of the smartest species. By hearing a different point of view of our society, it opens up people’s minds. Everything changes when an individual not living in our society tells us that we are wrong.
Ishmael made the story extremely thought provoking. Not only did it change the narrator’s way of life, but it changed most of the readers’ minds as well. Ishmael used many lessons and stories to help get the message across that as a society we had to change our ways. No human can get the knowledge across like Ishmael because most individuals do not understand captivity, the journey through identity, and the different mindset a gorilla has to offer. Ishmael’s significance throughout the novel is extremely powerful and the story wouldn’t be as unique if it had just been another human teaching the story.
Get Access