Daniel Quinn's Ishmael

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In his novel, Ishmael, author Daniel Quinn (1992), uses the application sociological theories, developed by Emile Durkheim and numerous other sociologists, to illustrate the misconceptions in modern human society in a fictionalized setting. The main character of the novel, Ishmael, is a highly educated gorilla who is able to project an objective view into the societies of the world to his pupil living inside this world.

The situation in the society discussed in Ishmael involves the societies of the "Takers  and the "Leavers  and the way "Mother Culture  influences their existence. The Takers indulge in a society where questions as to the origins of culture are never addressed; whereas, the Leavers are those peoples who choose not to see themselves as the center of the universe. Ishmael states that according to the culture in Taker society, " ˜The Leavers were chapter one of human history- a long and uneventful chapter. Their chapter of human history ended about ten thousand years ago with the birth of agriculture in the New East. This event marked the beginning of chapter two, the chapter of the Takers'  (Quinn 1992:42). Yet, he directly contradicts this statement an

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