Kids' Animal Station

For kids who love animals by a kid who loves animals

Book Review: Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

In one of my classes for school, I have been reading a book called Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. The book is about a man and a telepathic gorilla named Ishmael “saving the world” (you can’t make this stuff up, folks!)


Anyways, I had to do a report on the metaphor used in the book for class, and I thought it would be a cool thing to share with all of 10 people reading my blog.

It’s important to note that I haven’t finished the entire book — I’m only just finishing the introductory first couple of pages. So, my report is predictive. If you have already read the book or have started, feel free to comment on your thoughts on the book, my report, whatever you like, just no spoilers, please. Even if you haven’t read the book, you can leave a critique or feedback of my work if you would like to.

Here’s the report I wrote for school:


On page 12, the narrator, a gorilla named Ishmael, says that says that the family he was a part of in Africa was like a hand, everyone works together as a whole, but each individual “finger” is perfectly capable of moving and doing things on it’s own. I know this because he says, “Five severed fingers don’t make a hand.” which explains that, even though he was in an enclosure with other gorillas like him, he still wasn’t part of a family.

Ishmael also says that, “a bond your species hasn’t experienced for thousands of years.” By “your species” he means the human that he was talking to. This statement sounds somewhat bitter, but what the gorilla is clearly trying to say is that humans lost the special bond some animals have somehow, and they haven’t had it for a long time. This is being discussed in a way that makes me think the bonds animals have, and that humans don’t, will come into play later when they are “saving the world.”

It is clear that Ishmael is saying that the human race lost something a long time ago and is comparing that to the nature of a human’s hand, working together, but able to work and move by themselves.

I think the severed fingers represent the human race being severed and split apart. Instinct relates into all of this, because Ishmael says that, when an animal is taken from its natural habitat, it loses its instincts and its force to live. I personally think that Nature relates to this, because the humans race lost the family unity when they started imprisoning other animals and splitting up animal’s families, messing up the Nature of other animals.

Ishmael describes instinct in a way that treats instinct as a physical thing you can lose instead of a thought, which is particularly interesting.


That’s the end of my report!

Like I said before, feel free to share your thoughts! I just thought this could be a quick little blog post, so I could hear someone else’s thoughts on the book. Or, to let folks know the book is worth reading!

Ishmael is a very clever book in the way that it describes each of the characters. So far, I don’t know too much about Ishmael or the man in the story, but I think I know just enough to connect and understand what the author is saying. It’s a good book, but it is very complex and made my brain hurt, so I wouldn’t necessarily consider it a younger kid’s book. It is good for anyone who is interested in spirituality and living in harmony with other humans, like me, because I’m 300% hippie trash.


This entry was posted on September 22, 2015 by in Advice/Reviews and tagged , .

Wise Words

"Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if a person or animal is at stake."
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."
— Translation of African Proverb

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