Daniel Quinn's Ishmael

Paper Rating: Word Count: 1288 Approx Pages: 5

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 and issues that each of these societies are living out two different stories that are in direct opposition of one another. According to Ishmael, the Industrial Revolution cause one society to diverge into two separate entities- the hunter-gatherers and the new industrialized society.

The idea that culture is an ever-present, collective unconsciousness is stressed throughout Quinn's (1992) novel. " ˜This explanation of how things came to be this way is ambient in your culture. Everyone knows it and everyone accepts it without question' (Ishmael)  (Quinn 1992:40). Every man, woman, and child know the story of creation in the Taker culture and automatically assume that God ... Continue Reading