Don’t Call Me Ishmael

by

Michael Gerard Bauer

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Don’t Call Me Ishmael: Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
While all this is happening, Ishmael starts to feel normal. Maybe he’s been cured of Ishmael Leseur’s syndrome—after all, he’s on the successful St. Daniel’s debate team, has a friend in Scobie, Barry isn’t tormenting him anymore, and Kelly Faulkner might even be a possible love interest. Mom and Dad even notice the change, and Prue is impressed. This is a real compliment coming from her, since she regularly steals the limelight.
Bringing up Barry here highlights that Barry has been conspicuously absent for many chapters now. And with Barry gone, Ishmael is starting to feel more normal. This opens up the possibility that perhaps Ishmael is more normal than he thinks—it may be that Barry’s bullying campaign is really what makes Ishmael feel abnormal.
Themes
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
To demonstrate how Prue does this, Ishmael tells the story of “the Clash of the Peg People.” In Year One, Ishmael’s teacher assigned the class to make people out of pegs (clothespins). Ishmael made Batman and wrapped black tape around the peg to give it muscles. Ishmael was so proud—until one of his classmates incorrectly identified Batman as “the fat controller from Thomas the Tank Engine.”
It's impossible to tell for sure, but it could be that Ishmael’s classmate wasn’t being serious and, instead, was bullying Ishmael by incorrectly identifying Ishmael’s peg person. If this is the case, the fact that Ishmael doesn’t see it suggests that Ishmael doesn’t fully comprehend how significantly bullies impact his life and his self-esteem.
Themes
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
When Prue got to Year One, she of course took things a step further. She made 10 peg people, using a Time series on the most influential people of the century as inspiration. She didn’t stop there, though. After she made more influential men, Mom suggested Prue add women like Joan of Arc and writers like Hemingway. By the time Prue was done, she’d made more than 100. Now, Ishmael gets to decide which of history’s most influential people get to pin his underwear to the clothesline.
In many ways, Prue simply seems way more driven than Ishmael, which isn’t necessarily a value judgment on Ishmael. Prue also doesn’t seem to experience the same tenor of bullying that Ishmael does, so she may simply be more comfortable stepping out and trying new things. After all, making 100 peg people doesn’t seem like the sort of thing Ishmael would do—if only to avoid Barry’s inevitable teasing.
Themes
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon