Don’t Call Me Ishmael

by

Michael Gerard Bauer

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Barry Bagsley Character Analysis

The antagonist of the novel, Barry is the powerful bully in Year Nine at St. Daniel’s Boys School. Barry is tall, sporty, and blond, and he uses a combination of insults and physical intimidation to frighten most boys in the school. Students realized early on that their choices in dealing with Barry were to either join him—which his cronies, Doug and Danny, chose—or to avoid him, which Ishmael and everyone else went with. Many of Barry’s insults are based around making fun of people’s names (so he calls Ishmael things like Fish-whale Le-sewer), calling boys girls, or insinuating that his classmates are babies. Through this, he creates an environment where everyone is afraid to say anything for fear of what Barry is going to say back. But Barry meets his match when James Scobie arrives at St. Daniel’s and not only flaunts his intelligence, but shows that Barry can’t frighten him into being quiet. When Barry’s attempt to frighten Scobie by filling his desk with bugs and spiders fails, Ishmael thinks of Barry as being like the T-rex in Jurassic Park: behind an electric fence and harmless for the moment, but guaranteed to eventually escape. And Barry does eventually return to his full power when Scobie has to leave school for medical reasons. But this time, rather than target Ishmael, Barry targets Bill Kingsley for his weight. He torments Ishmael, too, by making it clear that Ishmael can’t stop him from tormenting Bill. Finally, though, Ishmael uses the “power of language” to best Barry, letting him know that he plans to read a prayer at an all-school event, praying that Barry will stop bullying people. Seeing how defeated Barry looks, though, Ishmael decides not to go through with it. Nevertheless, this successfully (if temporarily) cuts into Barry’s power, offering hope that Barry won’t be quite as much of a menace when students return for the next school year.

Barry Bagsley Quotes in Don’t Call Me Ishmael

The Don’t Call Me Ishmael quotes below are all either spoken by Barry Bagsley or refer to Barry Bagsley. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Greenwillow Books edition of Don’t Call Me Ishmael published in 2007.
Chapter 5 Quotes

“Ishmael? What kind of a wussy-crap name is that?”

What could I say? Up to this point in my life I hadn’t even known it was a wussy-crap name. No one had warned me that I had a wussy-crap name. Why would my parents give me a wussy-crap name in the first place? Was Herman Melville aware it was a wussy-crap name?

Related Characters: Barry Bagsley (speaker), Ishmael Leseur (speaker), Mom, Dad
Related Symbols: Moby-Dick
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

It soon became obvious to every Year Eight that if you wanted to survive your stay at St. Daniel’s Boys School relatively unscathed, there were only two courses of action open to you: either avoid Barry Bagsley at all costs, which was what the majority chose to do, or risk the road less traveled and seek out the dangerous safety of Barry Bagsley’s inner circle of “friends.”

Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

“You see how powerful language can be, boys? Even a little word like ‘before’ can hurt you if you don’t treat it with respect and listen carefully.”

Related Characters: Miss Tarango (speaker), Barry Bagsley, Ishmael Leseur
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

Every atom in my body told me that this was one of those times when the sensible thing to do was to make myself small. A few backward steps and I would be out of sight. Then I could forget all about Barry Bagsley and his mob. But that was just it. I could forget about the rest of them, but I couldn’t get the kid out of my mind. I won’t lie. I’m no hero. I wanted to turn around and run. I wanted to make myself small. I wanted to disappear. The problem was, I had the terrible feeling that if I did, I might not ever be able to find myself again.

Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

The class stared at James Scobie. Something wasn’t right here. This wasn’t the way things went. When Barry Bagsley threatened you, you backed down. That’s just the way it was; the way it had always been. You couldn’t just go changing things—just doing what you want. The whole room was one big furrowed brow. Something was happening here—we just weren’t quite sure what it was.

Related Characters: Ishmael Leseur (speaker), James Scobie, Barry Bagsley
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

As for Barry Bagsley, rumor had it that Brother Jerome had given him the “last warning” speech. In any case, when he finally returned to class, he was as sullen as a caged animal, a bit like the T-rex at the beginning of Jurassic Park, trapped inside that steel enclosure with a zillion volts of electricity zinging through the wires (which was fine by me). The only trouble was, I kept thinking that when you watch a movie like that, you just know that eventually, for some reason or another, someone or something will turn the electricity off.

Related Characters: Ishmael Leseur (speaker), Barry Bagsley, James Scobie, Brother Jerome
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

“Now, some of you may feel that debating is for wimps. I’m here to tell you that you are wrong. Research shows that most people are more afraid of speaking in public than they are of dying. Debating is not for wimps. It’s for boys with courage. That’s right, courage—the courage and commitment to stand up and perform under pressure.”

Related Characters: James Scobie (speaker), Barry Bagsley
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 27 Quotes

“Sort of…the tumor, the operation…they’re true. The other thing…not being afraid…Well, it depends on how you look at it. Maybe it wasn’t a scalpel that did it. Maybe…when you’re lying in an operating room and someone is cutting into your brain…and you don’t know whether you’re going to…”

For a few seconds all I could hear was Scobie breathing. When he continued, it was almost in a whisper.

“Well…maybe there’s just so much fear you can have…and in that one moment you use up all the fear you were ever supposed to feel…and it’s the fear that cuts you…and it cuts you so deep that you decide that nothing else is worth being afraid of…and that nothing is going to scare you anymore…because you just won’t let it.”

Related Characters: James Scobie (speaker), Ishmael Leseur, Barry Bagsley
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 38 Quotes

I looked at Bill. I remembered his face after that last debate. Now he looked numb and broken.

I ripped the certificate from the desk. “That’s it. I’m taking this to Barker.”

“No, Ishmael, don’t!”

Related Characters: Ishmael Leseur (speaker), Bill Kingsley (speaker), Barry Bagsley
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 39 Quotes

“Why can’t you just leave him alone?”

“Maybe I don’t want to. Are you going to make me?”

And there it was. The question we’d all been waiting for. The question whose answer I knew, and Barry Bagsley knew, was no. I looked at the smug, arrogant face before me, a face without a shadow of a doubt that it had nothing in the world to fear. I hated it and I hated how it was making me feel. I wanted to blow it away.

Related Characters: Ishmael Leseur (speaker), Barry Bagsley (speaker), Bill Kingsley
Page Number: 197
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 41 Quotes

The second thing I decided to do was ask Dad if I could borrow his copy of Moby-Dick. “Aaarrgh, me hearty,” he said, rolling his eyes crazily, “ye be seeking the white whale!”

I wasn’t, though. I be seeking Ishmael.

Related Characters: Ishmael Leseur (speaker), Dad (speaker), Kelly Faulkner, Barry Bagsley
Related Symbols: Moby-Dick
Page Number: 215
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 42 Quotes

But there was someone else onboard the Pequod who I could relate to. Maybe I hadn’t lost my leg to a great white whale like he had, but I understood what it was like to have a part of yourself torn away, and I also knew how much you could grow to hate whoever or whatever it was that had taken that part from you. I knew all about that, because every time Barry Bagsley taunted me and ground my name into the dirt, and every time he paid out on Bill Kingsley and I did nothing, it felt like there was much more of me missing than just a limb. But was I really like Ahab? Did I crave revenge like him? Would I really like to hunt down Barry Bagsley and harpoon him and make him suffer for what he had done?

You bet.

Related Characters: Ishmael Leseur (speaker), Bill Kingsley, Barry Bagsley
Related Symbols: Moby-Dick
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 45 Quotes

I let my eyes drift over the words. They seemed so simple, so harmless—just marks on a page. I read them to myself for the hundredth time.

Let us pray that Barry Bagsley can learn to let other people be themselves instead of bullying them and putting them down all the time.

Related Characters: Ishmael Leseur (speaker), Barry Bagsley
Page Number: 235
Explanation and Analysis:

I could tell she was asking if he was alright. It had to be Mrs. Bagsley, but it didn’t seem possible. It was hard enough imagining Barry Bagsley with a mother at all (surely he was thrown together in some dingy rat-infested laboratory) let alone one who looked…well…nice.

Related Characters: Ishmael Leseur (speaker), Barry Bagsley, Mrs. Bagsley
Page Number: 237
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 46 Quotes

But there was another reason why I couldn’t go through with it. It was that look on Barry Bagsley’s face, the one that I had put there, the one that reminded me of Kelly Faulkner’s little brother, of Bill Kingsley, and of myself. I didn’t want to be the kind of person that made people look like that. No matter who they were.

Related Characters: Ishmael Leseur (speaker), Barry Bagsley, Bill Kingsley, Marty/The Boy
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:
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Don’t Call Me Ishmael PDF

Barry Bagsley Character Timeline in Don’t Call Me Ishmael

The timeline below shows where the character Barry Bagsley appears in Don’t Call Me Ishmael. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
...He used to think it only triggered odd behavior in Dad, but then he met Barry Bagsley and learned that his name can bring out the absolute worst in people. But... (full context)
Chapter 5
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
...Then, to make things worse, his homeroom teacher commented that Ishmael’s name was “interesting.” And Barry Bagsley exhibited “disturbing behavior” later when he asked, “Ishmael? What kind of a wussy-crap name... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
...to feel self-conscious and like “a kid with a wussy-crap name.” And the next day, Barry called him Fishtail Le Sewer, and things went downhill from there. Barry now calls Ishmael... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Ishmael and his classmates realized quickly that survival at St. Daniel’s meant either avoiding Barry or joining Barry’s inner circle. Ishmael, of course, chose avoidance. Since starting at St. Daniel’s... (full context)
Chapter 7
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It’s the first day of Year Nine. Everything is new—aside, of course, from Barry calling Ishmael “Le Sewer.” Fortunately, the homeroom teacher, Miss Tarango, arrives. Miss Tarango is like... (full context)
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As Miss Tarango asks everyone to quiet down so she can take roll, Barry says he wouldn’t mind “doing a roll with her.” Miss Tarango pleasantly tells Barry she... (full context)
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...Kingsley offers Star Trek with genuine seriousness. Finally, Miss Tarango says the novel is Moby-Dick. Barry snickers; why would someone title their novel Moby-Dick? Miss Tarango says seriously that she’s not... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Ishmael only has a few classes with Barry, though he also has to avoid him at morning tea and lunch. During morning tea,... (full context)
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Barry grows gradually more confident during class until, finally, Miss Tarango asks Barry to bring up... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...the chair three times, the volunteer will have gotten up. The class is disbelieving, but Barry volunteers. Nobody tries to argue. (full context)
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Barry saunters to the front, where Miss Tarango asks very seriously if he suffers from a... (full context)
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When Barry says he’s ready, Miss Tarango walks slowly around Barry. She finishes the first circle, then... (full context)
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Miss Tarango says they’re out of time. Barry objects—is he really supposed to sit in the chair all night? Miss Tarango says that’s... (full context)
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Friendship Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
This earns Miss Tarango the love and respect of everyone in the class, aside from Barry. After this, Ishmael realizes that she’s going to be the best teacher he’s ever had. (full context)
Chapter 10
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
...stand up for himself—but what would they suggest he do? Threaten to let Dad tell Barry the story of how Ishmael got his name? Flatter Barry by suggesting he take up... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...is headed home on the path by the playing fields. Normally, Ishmael can easily avoid Barry after school. But today, Ishmael steps onto the path and sees Barry and his cronies... (full context)
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When Barry and Danny Wallace invite Ishmael to play catch with them, Ishmael suggests they give the... (full context)
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Finally, Barry says this is boring and tosses both hats into the nearby creek. He leads his... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...why. James Scobie isn’t different enough to garner sympathy. He’s just different enough to make Barry’s eyes light up. He’s small, with perfectly parted and combed hair. His socks are pulled... (full context)
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Friendship Theme Icon
...laugh. Miss Tarango scans the room with a hard stare and most kids stop smiling. Barry, though, looks like he’s just gotten a Christmas present. Ishmael feels terrible for James—but he... (full context)
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
...of the planner’s page—his handwriting is illegible. Ishmael notices that everyone, including Miss Tarango and Barry, are also watching James. Barry might as well be drooling. Ishmael knows James will be... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Friendship Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
As the class is leaving homeroom, Barry compliments Ishmael on his new girlfriend and shoves Ishmael’s shoulder. James Scobie watches Barry leave... (full context)
Chapter 14
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The Power of Language Theme Icon
...bounces off of James Scobie’s desk. The second wad hits him in the head, and Barry asks if it’s time for E.T. to phone home. In his head, Ishmael tells James... (full context)
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Friendship Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Barry throws a huge ball of paper at James, knocking James’s glasses askew. He asks if... (full context)
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The class stares. This isn’t what happens when Barry threatens someone. Barry tells James to run along, but James says he’s not afraid of... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Barry’s cronies hoot with laughter and Barry accuses James of lying. But Ishmael notices that it... (full context)
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Barry’s patience is wearing thin. He taps James’s chest and reminds James that he could snap... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
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...have a bug phobia. He felt nothing when he let spiders run all over him. Barry suggests that James leap out a window if he isn’t afraid. James notes that he's... (full context)
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As Barry counts, James praises him for being able to count to five without help. Mr. Barker... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Barry leaves Scobie alone for the rest of the week, but Ishmael can tell that something... (full context)
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
...is concerning. And Scobie is missing. Ishmael knows something is up, especially when he realizes Barry is also gone. This isn’t unusual, but it does make Ishmael’s stomach churn. Danny asks... (full context)
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Moments later, Scobie and Barry walk in. Scobie gives Ishmael a nod, sits at his desk, and unpacks his bag.... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
...the desk lid. Then, finally, Scobie puts his arms down and turns to stare at Barry. A spider as big as a saucer is clinging to Scobie’s cheek. Nobody says anything—until... (full context)
Chapter 17
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The Power of Language Theme Icon
...there as a joke. Scobie agrees that someone else put them there. He stares at Barry for a moment, but he says he doesn’t know who did it and doesn’t want... (full context)
Chapter 18
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After the bug incident, Barry’s reputation tanks. He’s banned from sports for two Saturdays and gets detention for a week.... (full context)
Chapter 26
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Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Ishmael thinks of all the times Scobie has been brave: standing up to Barry, reciting his poem at the football game, and whipping the debate team into shape. Hesitantly,... (full context)
Chapter 33
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Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
...on all that’s good in his life. He still has his family and friends, and Barry isn’t tormenting him anymore. Things really could be worse—and before long, things get worse. (full context)
Chapter 37
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...to have to face all of this again? Compared to what Scobie is going through, Barry Bagsley seems like “a minor skin irritation.” (full context)
Chapter 38
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
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...announces that Scobie won’t be returning to school for “personal” and “family” reasons. This brings Barry suddenly back to life. Barry taunts Ishmael and asks what Ishmael is going to do... (full context)
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The Power of Language Theme Icon
...semifinals. It’s the first certificate Bill has ever gotten. Later in the afternoon, Ishmael notices Barry, Danny, and Doug huddled around a computer in the library. This should raise suspicions. (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
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...the certificate out of the desk and says he’s taking it to Mr. Barker—he knows Barry did this, and Barry can’t get away with it. Bill begs Ishmael not to. It’s... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
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...to ask Miss Tarango to make Bill a new certificate. Second, he vows to make Barry pay for all the terrible things he’s done someday. (full context)
Chapter 39
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...is too embarrassed to ask for a new one. Then, as Ishmael heads for lunch, Barry asks why Ishmael looks so unhappy. Without thinking, Ishmael snaps that Barry did a “shitty”... (full context)
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Ishmael asks what Bill has ever done to Barry. Barry quips that Bill is so fat that it makes him feel ill. Bill makes... (full context)
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...convincing, Ishmael tells Razza about the certificate. Razza makes jokes, but then he notes that Barry is a “wanker” and so when Barry calls him things like “Or-arse-i-hole” or “Zit-arse,” who... (full context)
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Razza asks if Ishmael wants to trash Barry’s things and then notes that the Zorzottos have connections in Sicily—he can make Barry disappear.... (full context)
Chapter 40
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...told her all about it, though he couldn’t remember Ishmael’s name—he could only remember that Barry called Ishmael “Fish-whale” and “sewer.” Seeing Ishmael’s face, Kelly says boys are charming. She continues... (full context)
Chapter 41
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...Razza and Ishmael wait for Razza’s mom, Razza insists that because Ishmael “rescued” Marty from Barry, there’s no way Ishmael won’t snag Kelly. Ishmael insists that this is silly—Kelly just wanted... (full context)
Chapter 42
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...expected there to be some similarities between them. Ishmael in the novel doesn’t have a Barry Bagsley to torment him. He doesn’t faint when he sees whales. He’s never embarrassed. He... (full context)
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...of himself ripped away and hate the person who took that part away. Every time Barry taunts Ishmael or torments Bill, Ishmael feels like he’s missing something. But is Ishmael like... (full context)
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This feeling persists, not because of Moby-Dick but because Barry’s attacks on Bill continue to escalate. Barry leaves pictures of sumo wrestlers, blimps, and weight-loss... (full context)
Chapter 43
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...made—and others are weight loss ads, hippopotamuses, and pigs. In the back of the class, Barry, Danny, and Doug stifle their laughter. Finally, Mr. Barker says that Bill has wasted his... (full context)
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...is over, Ishmael stays in his desk. Razza hangs back, and Ishmael tells him that Barry ruined Bill’s speech. Ishmael insists it won’t do any good to tell Mr. Barker—all it... (full context)
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Just then, Barry runs back into the classroom to fetch a football and notices Ishmael and Razza. He... (full context)
Chapter 44
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...has a strange dream. He’s at school, and his classroom turns into a swimming pool. Barry has Bill by the hair and is pushing him underwater. Ishmael follows Barry into a... (full context)
Chapter 45
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...knows he needs to check in with Miss Tarango, but first, he needs to find Barry. Finally, Ishmael finds Barry and heads his direction. Barry taunts Ishmael when he sees him.... (full context)
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...Barker helped him write. It’s a prayer Ishmael wrote. It reads: “Let us pray that Barry Bagsley can learn to let other people be themselves instead of bullying them and putting... (full context)
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Ishmael looks around the gym and finds Barry in the middle of the room. Barry is obviously furious, but Ishmael is surprised that... (full context)
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As Ishmael takes the microphone, Barry suddenly doesn’t look threatening anymore. Ishmael sees a woman beside Barry put a hand on... (full context)
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Ishmael says, “Let us pray that Barry,” but he stops. Barry slumps in his seat, looking beaten. Ishmael recognizes that look—he’s worn... (full context)
Chapter 46
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Ishmael knows he said he was going to get revenge on Barry Bagsley, but seeing Mrs. Bagsley changed things. Ishmael finds that he can’t deal with how... (full context)
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...He knows he made the right choice, but he also knows he didn’t help Bill. Barry will go back to torturing people once the Christmas holidays are over. Finally, Brother Jerome... (full context)
Chapter 47
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
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...smile is huge as he watches Razza and Bill walk away. But it disappears when Barry appears behind him. Barry is clearly angry, but when he says that he knew Ishmael... (full context)
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As Ishmael and Barry stand and stare at each other, Mrs. Bagsley appears and kindly greets Ishmael. She makes... (full context)
Chapter 48
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...As Ishmael finally heads for the exit, he feels like nothing—not even a platoon of Barry Bagsleys—can make him stop smiling. (full context)