Ishmael: Humans Held Captive Essay

739 WordsDec 3, 20133 Pages
When someone hears the phrase “held captive”, usually wild animals come to mind. No one ever really thinks of humans as being held captive. However, in Daniel Quinn’s 1992 novel Ishmael, the character of Ishmael tries teaching the story’s narrator to think of ways in which he has been held captive by both internal and external forces. Society has a way of making people feel like they need to do certain things to be successful, so basically society is holding people captive by holding them back from living the way they want to. As humans, we also have ways of holding ourselves captive. Ishmael compares our captivity with a form of blindness. Throughout the novel, Quinn helps the reader realize what they are blind to and what they are…show more content…
This is just one of the ways humans hold themselves captive. A big part of Ishmael’s problem with humans is that we’re selfish with our planet. We’d rather destroy our planet to benefit our needs than try to tame our requirements. “You’ve been doing what you damn well please with the world. And of course you mean to go right on doing what you damn well please with it, because the whole damn thing belongs to you.” (Page 61) Throughout the book, Ishmael brings up humans using the world to their own advantage and not caring what or who gets hurt in the process. I feel like this is one of Quinn’s greatest examples of what we’re blind to. We don’t realize that our oceans, our forests and wildlife and our environment aren’t actually ours. This is another example of humans thinking they’re the top of the ecosystem and using the world because it “belongs to us.” We realize that we’re ruining habitats and using an excessive amount of resources, but we do nothing to stop it. We ruin our world but don’t get that we need our world. We’ve created a cycle that’s holding us captive but we don’t know how to reverse it. The character of Ishmael mentions many times that we are the only ones who can fix what’s wrong with us. If everyone read the book, more people would feel like a change needs to be made. I feel like Ishmael should be a part of the curriculum for many classes. The novel is so universal in the way that it

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