Don’t Call Me Ishmael

by

Michael Gerard Bauer

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Don’t Call Me Ishmael: Chapter 32 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day, during the lunchtime debating meeting, Ishmael wearily tries to explain to Razza about Prue’s peg people. Scobie insists they should get on with the debrief. (There’s nothing to debrief; after Ishmael fainted, the adjudicators gave the points to the Lourdes School girls.) Scobie insists they should thank Ishmael—because he stepped up, they get to go to the finals. Everyone applauds, and Razza quips that they need to write in the debating handbook: “when all else fails, grope one of the opposition.”
There might not be anything major to debrief, but Scobie also seems to want to diminish what happened as much as possible. And this means treating Ishmael’s fainting episode as a normal thing that doesn’t require special attention. He’s trying to do Ishmael a favor here. Razza, though, implies that more happened than just Ishmael fainting.
Themes
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Ishmael is confused by what Razza means. Scobie, Bill, and Ignatius stare and realize that Ishmael doesn’t know what happened. Ishmael doesn’t remember anything, aside from trying not to pass out. Razza enthusiastically offers to explain, but Scobie says he should do it. This must be bad. Scobie says that after Ishmael started to fall forward, his arm went out—and his left hand hit Kelly Faulkner. Ishmael asks if he hurt her, but the other boys just smile. Razza starts making puns about breasts and Ishmael looks around, horrified. His life is over: he groped Kelly Faulkner. He puts his face on his desk.
Recall that earlier, Ishmael sarcastically suggested he’d like to meet a girl and get married without ever having to speak to her. He’s clearly uncomfortable around potential romantic partners, which makes the revelation that he accidentally groped Kelly even worse for Ishmael. However, note that while Ishmael resents Razza’s puns, he does seem to trust and appreciate his friends’ attempts to tell him what happened.
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Razza continues to dance around and make jokes. Even Ignatius and Bill laugh. Ishmael knows he has no chance with Kelly now. He’s not only a “wimp” who faints, but he’s a “pervert,” too. Finally, Razza collapses on the floor, laughing at his own jokes. Scobie seriously says they need to be mature; they need to cut the “nonsense over what are, after all, just mammary glands.” Ishmael peels his face off the desk and asks what he should say to Kelly when he sees her next. Ignatius, Bill, and Razza just stare back blankly. Ishmael turns to Scobie, who says Ishmael could thank her for the “mammary.”
For Ishmael, the worst part of this is that Kelly will never want to date him now—he believes that she’ll see him as a predator rather than a possible romantic partner. But this setback aside, Ishmael shows how close he’s getting with his new friends when he asks them what he’s supposed to do now. He wants and values their input. And for his part, Scobie is relaxing and getting better at relating to Razza—his pun is one that will no doubt appeal to Razza.
Themes
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon