Don’t Call Me Ishmael


Michael Gerard Bauer

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Don’t Call Me Ishmael: Chapter 49 Summary & Analysis

Ishmael looks around at the crowd one last time, still smiling—but before he can leave the gym, Ignatius barrels into him. Ignatius offers Ishmael an envelope. He doesn’t know what it is; someone at his sister’s school gave it to his sister to pass along to Ishmael. Ignatius runs away, so Ishmael finds a quiet spot and opens the envelope. His heart stops when he sees the name at the bottom.
Ignatius clearly doesn’t care about the contents of or the story behind this letter, which makes his delivery even funnier. But it does seem like a sign that even Ignatius is starting to warm up to his debating teammates that he runs back to give Ishmael the letter. 
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Kelly Faulkner writes that her friend is having a party for her 15th birthday in February. The friend wants it to be a mixed-gender party, but they don’t know a lot of boys. So Kelly told her about Ishmael and the Razzman and would love it if they could come. She acknowledges that February is a long way away, but she’s going to Hawaii with her family for the holidays and won’t be back until just before the party. She thought Ishmael might like some time to think. Kelly writes her number at the bottom and then writes, “Call me Ishmael!” “Call me” is underlined.
The closing line of Kelly’s letter shows another way that language can be powerful. Kelly reframes the first line of Moby-Dick to be something that actually has meaning for Ishmael—now, it’s a command for him to pick up the phone and call her, rather than just a narrator asking readers to call him Ishmael. Ishmael’s understanding of how language works and can be powerful is getting more complex.
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