Philosophical analysis and plot summary of Daniel Quinn's "Ishmael".

Essay by thiscountsforoneHigh School, 12th gradeA+, December 2003

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Everyone has different opinions on life. Some may say that humans are superior to all living things and others say otherwise. In Ishmael, author Daniel Quinn gives the reader his opinions on topics such as evolution, the Bible, and western culture. The first draft of the book was written in 1977, and the final draft was released in 1990. Between 1977 and 1990, Quinn wrote six drafts of Ishmael. Daniel Quinn wrote Ishmael to teach us how to save the world from ourselves.

Ishmael is about a middle-aged male writer whom Quinn never gives a name to. I believe Quinn never gave the man a name because the man represents mankind, not a specific person. The man reads an ad in a newspaper that says, "Teacher seeks pupil. Must have the earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person." The man used to want a teacher and had a desire to save the world when he was younger.

Out of curiosity, he goes to apply. When he enters the room, he sees a gorilla in a cage, and no one else there. This gorilla, Ishmael, can talk. Ishmael is full of knowledge and is eager to teach the man what he knows. Ishmael tells many stories which have a meaning. The reader is often challenged with Ishmael's hard but interesting questions on life. He uses these stories to get his point across, the same way Jesus did in the Bible. Quinn very creatively had the gorilla teaching the human about life, which I think is a genius idea. The book is based on one question which the man struggles to find the answer to throughout the whole book: how things came to be this way.

Ishmael begins to tell the man about Mother Culture. Mother Culture represents things...