Jan 10, · Don’t Call Me Ishmael! deals with a number of themes prominent in young adult novels: among them, self-image and self-esteem, the importance of solidarity and loyalty, and the power of words and of humour to diffuse aggression – all of which can be /5(7). That is what the protagonist is called in Michael Gerard Bauer’s young adult novel, Don’t Call Me Ishmael!. The book is in the form of a journal, written in the first person and kept by the protagonist, fourteen-year-old Ishmael, to help him understand the problems his strange name has created for him. The story has strong themes; coping with bullying is an important issue for today’s youth and is addressed with reality and truth. (Goodreading – 5 Star review) Don’t Call Me Ishmael! is hugely entertaining, delightfully funny and enormously insightful Not to be missed by readers aged 11 and up. (Sunday Tasmanian). Essay on the novel, “Don’t Call Me Ishmael”. TASK: You are to write a carefully constructed essay discussing the themes in the novel. You will use correct essay structure, including an introduction, three main body paragraphs and a conclusion. Title: Essay Dont Call Me Ishmael. Don’t Call Me Ishmael Essay – By Bob Ishmael Leseur is the main character in “Don’t Call Me Ishmael”, a book by Michael Gerard Bauer. He courageously steps up to Year Nine only to be bullied for his name, embarrassed in front of his first love, and to become a complete social outcast.
- Don’t Call Me Ishmael Essay
- Don’t Call Me Ishmael
- don’t call me ishmael! (facebook Page: Don’t Call Me Ishmael – Michael Gerard Bauer
Don’t Call Me Ishmael Essay
In a school where Class A bullies rule, the results can be devastating. I never copped it for having a foreign name, though I went to an overwhelmingly Anglo-Saxon school. In fact, two kids at the top of the social pecking order there carried a Greek and an Italian name. But where bullying does occur, it can potentially leave scars for life. The book is in the form of a journal, written in the first person and kept by the protagonist, fourteen-year-old Ishmael, to help him understand the problems his strange name has created for him.
It becomes a narrative of a particularly challenging school year. Fishtail le Sewer, le Spewer, Manure, they call him, and much more.
Don’t Call Me Ishmael
Ishmael had wisely kept the origins of his name, chosen in a bizarre unfolding of events in the maternity hospital when he was born, a secret. When an odd boy arrives in the class — small, with a conspicuous facial tic and precocious vocabulary — and Ishmael is allocated to look after him, he fears the worst.
There is no safety in numbers when bullies take on the weak; it only multiplies the attacks. What Ishmael soon finds out, however, is that the new boy, James Scobie, has a remarkable power: He is also smart, knowledgeable and worldly, and thinks on his feet.
Within days of arrival, he has cut Barry Bagsley down to size, standing up to threats of violence with withering wit. When James stands up to speak publicly for the first time, Ishmael is stunned: Everything that up until then had been vague and confusing suddenly snapped into focus. The only other volunteers are the extroverted Orazio Zorzotto, an incorrigible comedian and would-be Romeo, who hopes the gig will give him access to pretty girls at other schools; Ignatius Prindabel, a nervy science nerd who is a master of the non sequitur; and the large and ponderous sci-fi and fantasy fan, Bill Kingsley, who seems to exist in a world of his own.
Ishmael confronts a new terror in the debating club: A mortifying collapse at his first function not only attracts the attention of the girl who has already caught his eye there, but sets him up for the second half of the book, where his personal growth ramps up. When James has another health alert and is taken out of school, Ishmael steps up to lead the team. He stands up to Bagsley and his mates to help a younger boy they are attacking, and succeeds in losing both their hats to the river.
But he learns about the self-assurance that comes from doing the right thing and standing up for the underdog, whether one wins or not. He and Zorzotto, who never seems to have had a moment of self-doubt in his life, stand up for Bill Kingsley too a little later, when the boy is being terrorised by the Bagsley bunch for being fat.
Through the debating club, Bill also begins to assert himself in the small but dangerous arena of the schoolroom. His refusal to let Ishmael call in the adults to sort out the bullies gives a rite-of-passage feel to his torturous experience, and all the boys are a little wiser, a little stronger, for having solved some of their problems on their own.
And the year ends promisingly for them all. The adults in the book are one-dimensional and each is symbolic. Miss Tarango, the Year 9 teacher, is smart and sweet, and shows the boys that femininity — and by extension, all the traits that wouldn't help in a punch-up — has sophisticated resources with which to defend itself.
Young adult novels are a curious subdivision of literature. Written by adults for adolescents, they must jump through successive hoops of language and concept, seeking relevance and risking condescension. Adolescents have finely tuned ears for the use of slang and for adults who are trying too hard to be hip. I remember discussing quite sophisticated social problems my classmates were having when I was in primary school, but I doubt we were using the language of Freud or Lacan to do so.
Finding reports on the book by adolescent boys online is an interesting exercise: One thing he evokes clearly, however, is the adolescent sense that the boys own their world, that they make it and must deal with it within the parameters of their educational institution, their families and the wider world they are still learning about.
Appealing to the adults in their lives signals not only psychological but moral weakness. It echoes the rites of passage teenage boys had to pass through, tests of physical and moral courage away from the support of their community, in order to become men in tribal societies. Men is an operative word here. Set in a Catholic boys school, this is a very masculine book.
Miss Tarango still runs shrieking from the classroom when insects are released into it, though the boys are doing quite a bit of leaping about and shrieking too. It takes a male teacher — Mr Barker, of course — to restore order.
don’t call me ishmael! (facebook Page: Don’t Call Me Ishmael – Michael Gerard Bauer
Avoidance, he comes to realise, only encourages bullies; it prompts a frightening and ongoing game of hide-and-seek. Revenge is no solution either. Eventually, Ishmael learns to rely on himself, to think and plan and not merely react to others. The promise of the final chapter, a confidence-boosting hope that will linger over the long summer holidays, is a denouement that everyone wrestling with inner demons might hope for.
The year represents an important segue in the adolescent journey towards adulthood. It is utopian, of course, because adults too suffer from bullying in marriages and workplaces, from lack of self-esteem and from loneliness.
Miriam Cosic is a freelance journalist, critic and author, and a former literary editor of The Australian.