Don’t Call Me Ishmael

by

Michael Gerard Bauer

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Don’t Call Me Ishmael: Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ishmael dedicates himself to taking as many notes as possible for the rest of the workshop. If he even happens to look in Kelly’s direction, Razza mimes being shot in the chest with an arrow. In bed that night, Ishmael decides he’s not in love. He only knows Kelly’s name because they all wore nametags (he put his nametag under his sweater so no one could see it and have a bad reaction to his name). He’s definitely not in love, though he did look at Kelly. But why couldn’t he stop looking at her?
It's an indicator of how self-conscious Ishmael still is that he didn’t put his nametag where others could see it—this, of course, entirely defeats the purpose of the nametag. But it also ensures that he can fly under the radar and not have anyone comment on his name. The fact that Ishmael refuses to acknowledge that he has a crush on Kelly reflects his discomfort with having a crush at all.
Themes
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Ishmael thinks that, during the first session, Kelly was part of a debate presentation. He doesn’t usually notice people’s eyes—but Kelly’s eyes are ice blue, and they sparkle. But that’s not love. Rather, Ishmael is just interested in her, and curious about her. She just looks so happy when she smiles and happens to look perfect.
Ishmael seems pretty smitten with Kelly, despite insisting that he doesn’t have a crush on her. As he tries to talk himself out of the crush, he discovers that these kinds of thought exercises can only do so much. Logic won’t save him from having to feel these new emotions.
Themes
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
That night, Ishmael dreams that he and Kelly are friends and go to each other’s houses. It feels so real that when Ishmael wakes up, he momentarily believes it is real. He spends most of Sunday moping, but every place he goes is just a place where Kelly isn’t. Finally, flopping onto his bed, Ishmael wonders if Razza is right. Ishmael decides to use the four steps of effective rebuttal to strike down Razza’s ridiculous ideas.
It's starting to look to Ishmael like Razza is right—even if Razza is also “ridiculous.” Again, that Ishmael is so smitten with Kelly just shows that he’s growing up; what he’s going through is normal and expected. But, as Ishmael’s discomfort with the whole thing shows, a crush being normal doesn’t make it easy or comfortable to deal with.
Themes
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
One, Razza says Ishmael is in love with Kelly. Two, Ishmael insists this is false—but then he thinks of Kelly’s jeans and her cute smile. Ishmael’s chest hurts. He’s obviously on the “website of luuurve.”
Finally, Ishmael has to accept that Razza was right. This is a first step toward starting to trust Razza and see Razza as an insightful friend.
Themes
Friendship Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
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