Don’t Call Me Ishmael

by

Michael Gerard Bauer

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Ishmael Leseur Character Analysis

The protagonist of the novel, Ishmael is a 14-year-old Year Nine student at St. Daniel’s Boys School. Ishmael lived a happy, idyllic life until a year before the novel begins, when he started at St. Daniel’s. At that point, a bully named Barry Bagsley began bullying Ishmael for having a “wussy-crap name.” So now, Ishmael believes that he suffers from what he calls Ishmael Leseur’s Syndrome, which causes him to be unpopular and regularly embarrass himself. He blames his parents for naming Ishmael, but he believes the real culprit is Herman Melville, the author of Moby-Dick (the narrator of Moby-Dick is Ishmael’s namesake). At school, Ishmael goes out of his way to hide from Barry, occasionally standing up for other kids but generally keeping quiet. Things begin to change at the start of second term, when James Scobie joins the Year Nine class. Scobie quickly puts Barry in his place, which earns him Ishmael’s loyalty and respect. Scobie also starts a debating team and encourages Ishmael to join. This is difficult for Ishmael, as he’s terrified of public speaking, so Scobie promises that Ishmael will only ever have to help write the speeches. Ishmael fills in once during a competition—but he faints and accidentally gropes his crush, Kelly Faulkner, on the way down. When Scobie has to leave school for medical reasons, things again get worse. Ishmael finds that Barry’s bullying gets harder to bear because Barry begins targeting Bill Kingsley, a large boy on the debating team. Ishmael can’t stand to see his friend targeted so ruthlessly. Around this time, Ishmael also decides to read Moby-Dick and figure out who his namesake actually is. With what Ishmael learns from Moby-Dick and from debating, he figures out a way to stop Barry by humiliating him at the last all-school event. Ultimately, though, Ishmael chooses not to humiliate Barry, as he doesn’t want to become a bully himself. The novel ends with Ishmael secure in his identity and his friendships, and with him looking forward to seeing Kelly again, as she invites him to a party.

Ishmael Leseur Quotes in Don’t Call Me Ishmael

The Don’t Call Me Ishmael quotes below are all either spoken by Ishmael Leseur or refer to Ishmael Leseur. 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 1 Quotes

So, first things first. My name is Ishmael Leseur.

Now, wait on, I know what you’re going to say—I have the same name as my condition! You probably think I just invented it, so I can use it as an excuse whenever I make a complete fool of myself. But you don’t get it. It’s not that simple. You have to understand that the name is the condition—or at least part of it.

Related Characters: Ishmael Leseur (speaker)
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

And if it hadn’t been my terrible fate to end up as Ishmael Leseur, then none of the disasters of my life would have happened and today I would be a happy normal teenager, like everyone else my age.

Related Characters: Ishmael Leseur (speaker), Bill Kingsley, Ignatius Prindabel, James Scobie
Related Symbols: Moby-Dick
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Chapter 25 Quotes

Even though we had improved from last time, the difference again was Scobie. It was like having Michael Phelps swimming the final leg for you in the under-seven floaties relay. As long as we could keep the opposition vaguely in sight, we knew that Scobie would reel them in and eat them up.

Page Number: 133
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 35 Quotes

“Well, I guess you could say that part of it’s about how power can be used in a good way or a bad way, and you could tie that to things like the power that big companies or politicians or dictators have today, I suppose. And Harry himself faces a lot of problems that I reckon would be relevant to a lot of people—you know, like coping with death and trying to fit in when you’re different…and bullying.”

Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:

“Oh, and Orazio…I know we’re not headed for Mount Doom or anything, but we are on a bit of a quest, aren’t we? Maybe we’re even some sort of a fellowship.”

Razza sprawled back in his seat and shook his head slowly from side to side as if nothing made sense to him anymore. Finally he stood up, leaned over the table, and placed his hand on Bill’s shoulder.

I held my breath. I had a terrible feeling that Orazio Zorzotto’s razor-sharp wit was about to slice Bill Kingsley in two.

Razza fixed his eyes on the large form before him. “I will follow you,” he said solemnly, “my brother…my captain…my…Kingsley.”

Related Characters: Bill Kingsley (speaker), Orazio “Razza” Zorzotto (speaker), Ishmael Leseur, Ignatius Prindabel
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 36 Quotes

Razza nudged me in the ribs and jerked his head toward Bill Kingsley, who was gazing into space beside him. I knew what Razza was getting at. Bill looked different somehow. It must have been the smile on his face.

Related Characters: Ishmael Leseur (speaker), Bill Kingsley, Orazio “Razza” Zorzotto
Page Number: 184
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 40 Quotes

“What’s he like?”

“My father?”

“No—Ishmael—the person you’re named after.”

“Oh yeah, right,” I said, feeling like a dork.

“Well?”

“What…oh…I don’t know what he’s like. I’ve never read it.”

“Really? You haven’t read it? How come? If I was named after someone in a book, I’d definitely want to read it to find out what they were like. You know, see if I was like them.”

Related Characters: Ishmael Leseur (speaker), Kelly Faulkner (speaker)
Related Symbols: Moby-Dick
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:

And then it happened. Kelly Faulkner laughed, and her beautiful pale eyes melted my heart like ice cream in a microwave till all that remained was an awful empty feeling. That’s when I knew. Nothing would happen between us. I’d been kidding myself. It just wasn’t possible for eyes as beautiful as that to see anyone as ordinary as me. For the first time, I didn’t feel like a nervous wreck in Kelly Faulkner’s presence. What did I have to worry about?

Related Characters: Ishmael Leseur (speaker), Kelly Faulkner, James Scobie
Page Number: 209
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:

I heard a strange noise come from deep within Bill Kingsley. It took me a moment to realize that he was laughing.

Razza looked back at me, flashed that deadly smile, and gave me the thumbs-up.

They were right all along. The Razzman really did work in mysterious ways.

Related Characters: Ishmael Leseur (speaker), Orazio “Razza” Zorzotto, Bill Kingsley
Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 50 Quotes

But do you want to know the really weird thing? Well, I’ll tell you. The really weird thing was that as I lay there with only the raspy sound of my breathing filling my ears and with the spongy grass of St. Daniel’s playing fields buoying me up, I could have sworn that I was floating and bobbing on the surface of a vast green ocean. Remind you of anyone?

Go on—call me Ishmael if you like.

After all, as the Big Z would say, I’m da man!

Related Symbols: Moby-Dick
Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:
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Ishmael Leseur Character Timeline in Don’t Call Me Ishmael

The timeline below shows where the character Ishmael Leseur appears in Don’t Call Me Ishmael. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Ishmael needs to tell the truth: he’s 14 years old and suffers from Ishmael Leseur’s syndrome,... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
None of Ishmael’s family members—Dad, Mom, or his sister Prue—suffer from the syndrome. Prue, in fact, is “adorable”... (full context)
Chapter 2
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
The story of how Ishmael got his name is a favorite in his family, though he hates it. He’s heard... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Ishmael’s second theory about Ishmael Leseur’s syndrome is that it can trigger “disturbing behavior” in other... (full context)
Chapter 3
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...his son as though he were listening. Dad said the baby was saying, “Call me Ishmael.” Mom and Dad howled hysterically, while baby Ishmael “shrieked, like a chainsaw.” Perhaps he knew... (full context)
Chapter 4
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
The real culprit of Ishmael Leseur’s Syndrome is, of course, Herman Melville. If Herman Melville hadn’t written his famous novel... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Ishmael urges readers to go pick up a copy of Moby-Dick if they don’t believe him;... (full context)
Chapter 5
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
Ishmael clarifies that he hasn’t suffered from Ishmael Leseur’s Syndrome his entire life. It only showed... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Up to that point, Ishmael didn’t know his name was a “wussy-crap” name. Were his parents and Herman Melville aware... (full context)
Chapter 6
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
Ishmael and his classmates realized quickly that survival at St. Daniel’s meant either avoiding Barry or... (full context)
Chapter 7
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
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 no teacher... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
...to answer with something more polite than “Yo!” in the future. When she gets to Ishmael, she asks how to properly pronounce his last name. Barry cackles that Ishmael’s name is... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Then, Miss Tarango notes that Ishmael is a famous name in literature. Ishmael feels ready to die as she asks the... (full context)
Chapter 8
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Ishmael only has a few classes with Barry, though he also has to avoid him at... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...Miss Tarango hands out sheets of paper asking for five “amazing” facts from each student. Ishmael’s five facts are that Prue is a genius, Dad played in a band, Mom is... (full context)
Chapter 9
The Power of Language Theme Icon
...thorough—and if he doesn’t want to do this, nobody will think any less of him. Ishmael is certain Miss Tarango won’t actually hurt Barry—right? Barry sits down and Miss Tarango says... (full context)
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
...the first circle, then the second. Barry looks like he’s glued to his chair, and Ishmael is certain Miss Tarango is going to fail. But then, she completes the third half-circle... (full context)
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
...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
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Miss Tarango won her battle with Barry, but Ishmael’s battle isn’t over. Things are worse now that Miss Tarango has introduced Barry to Moby-Dick;... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
Ishmael knows readers are probably wondering why he doesn’t stand up for himself—but what would they... (full context)
Chapter 11
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
On the last day of first term, Ishmael is headed home on the path by the playing fields. Normally, Ishmael can easily avoid... (full context)
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
When Barry and Danny Wallace invite Ishmael to play catch with them, Ishmael suggests they give the boy back his hat. Barry... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
...is boring and tosses both hats into the nearby creek. He leads his friends away. Ishmael and the Moorfield boy creep down the bank to rescue their hats. On their way... (full context)
Chapter 12
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...in a tone that demands the boys obey, says she’s sure they’ll make James welcome. Ishmael immediately sees why. James Scobie isn’t different enough to garner sympathy. He’s just different enough... (full context)
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...and most kids stop smiling. Barry, though, looks like he’s just gotten a Christmas present. Ishmael feels terrible for James—but he also wonders if maybe Barry will target James instead of... (full context)
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
...he carefully writes his name at the top 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... (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 and asks... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Ishmael usually avoids Bill Kingsley, but he’s never wanted to sit next to him so badly.... (full context)
Chapter 14
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
...head, and Barry asks if it’s time for E.T. to phone home. In his head, Ishmael tells James to ignore it—but James turns around and stares. Barry asks what James is... (full context)
Chapter 15
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Barry’s cronies hoot with laughter and Barry accuses James of lying. But Ishmael notices that it seems like James is telling the truth: he doesn’t look afraid. He... (full context)
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
...of education—Barry counted to five without using his fingers. The bell rings and James rejoins Ishmael. He smiles and introduces himself as Scobie. (full context)
Chapter 16
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
Barry leaves Scobie alone for the rest of the week, but Ishmael can tell that something is up. Ishmael notices Barry huddling with Danny, Doug, and a... (full context)
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
Then, when Ishmael gets to homeroom late, Doug is sitting on Scobie’s desk and talking to Danny. These... (full context)
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
Moments later, Scobie and Barry walk in. Scobie gives Ishmael a nod, sits at his desk, and unpacks his bag. Then, he lifts the lid... (full context)
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Ishmael fares no better than the other boys; the wave of insects is terrifying. After retreating... (full context)
Chapter 18
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
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Friendship Theme Icon
...Barry that this is the last straw, so when Barry returns to class, he’s sullen. Ishmael thinks of him as the T-rex at the beginning of Jurassic Park, trapped behind an... (full context)
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Friendship Theme Icon
...hand, becomes a hero. Weeks after the incident, just before one of the Thursday assemblies, Ishmael realizes that Scobie isn’t still with him. He nervously tells Miss Tarango that he doesn’t... (full context)
The Power of Language Theme Icon
...Churchill girls.” He also asks Scobie to come to the game. Scobie agrees and asks Ishmael to come with him. (full context)
Chapter 19
The Power of Language Theme Icon
When Scobie and Ishmael get to the stadium, Mr. Hardcastle seats them behind the St. Daniel’s bench. The boys... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
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The Power of Language Theme Icon
With less than one minute left, St. Daniel’s lines up for what Ishmael knows will be a pass to Peter. Scobie stands up and starts shouting lines from... (full context)
Chapter 20
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
On Monday, Scobie casually tells Ishmael that he’s put Ishmael’s name down for the Year Nine debating team. Ishmael is hysterical... (full context)
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The Power of Language Theme Icon
Ishmael says he can’t do it, so Scobie asks if Ishmael would do it if he... (full context)
Chapter 21
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
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...teams, but few people respond from years Ten, Eleven, and Twelve. On Wednesday, during lunch, Ishmael joins Scobie for the Year Nine meeting. Ishmael can’t decide if he wants everybody or... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
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The Power of Language Theme Icon
...is about teamwork. They must work together, help each other, and present a united front. Ishmael stares at his teammates. Razza is circling the girls’ schools on his sheet and is... (full context)
Chapter 22
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The Power of Language Theme Icon
The workshop at Moorfield High should be useful and informative. Instead, it just humiliates Ishmael further. He first notices Kelly Faulkner in the morning—and Razza notices Ishmael noticing Kelly. At... (full context)
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Friendship Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Ishmael insists he doesn’t have to do this, but Razza grabs Ishmael’s shirt and curses Cupid.... (full context)
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Just then, Scobie comes out of the classroom. Razza informs Scobie that Ishmael didn’t learn anything in the last session and asks what’s gotten into Ishmael. Scobie squints... (full context)
Chapter 23
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Ishmael dedicates himself to taking as many notes as possible for the rest of the workshop.... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Ishmael thinks that, during the first session, Kelly was part of a debate presentation. He doesn’t... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
That night, Ishmael dreams that he and Kelly are friends and go to each other’s houses. It feels... (full context)
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The Power of Language Theme Icon
One, Razza says Ishmael is in love with Kelly. Two, Ishmael insists this is false—but then he thinks of... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Ishmael decides the best thing to do is to not think about Kelly. He doesn’t have... (full context)
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The Power of Language Theme Icon
Ishmael offers a sample script of their first meeting. Razza consistently insists they got “the crap... (full context)
Chapter 26
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
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... (full context)
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... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Bullying and Courage Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Perhaps feeling normal makes Ishmael drop his guard. But in any case, he’s soon going to feel “the full effects”... (full context)
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Ishmael suggests they get a Year Eight to step in and do it, but Scobie says... (full context)
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Ishmael thinks of all the times Scobie has been brave: standing up to Barry, reciting his... (full context)
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Ishmael wants to ask Scobie to clarify, but Scobie says Ishmael has to be there in... (full context)
Chapter 28
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Ishmael races around the house, shouting for Mom to tell him where his clean school uniforms... (full context)
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On the drive, Dad checks if Ishmael is okay. Ishmael says he is, though he feels ready to vomit and as though... (full context)
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Ishmael takes his seat between Scobie and Razza and pulls out some blank index cards. Scobie... (full context)
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Ishmael comes back to earth when the girl chairing the debate stands, introduces the topic (the... (full context)
Chapter 29
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The chair calls Kelly to speak first. Razza whispers, “Twang!” in Ishmael’s ear, but Ishmael ignores him. He has to concentrate—he must analyze and pick apart Kelly’s... (full context)
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As Kelly flicks to a new index card, Ishmael notices how cute her hands are and how pretty and shiny her hair is. He... (full context)
Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
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...sits down to applause. Scobie pushes index cards with his unreadable notes on them to Ishmael. Razza passes Ishmael a card. It reads, “Your girlfriend’s got hot legs!” Ishmael knows he’s... (full context)
Chapter 30
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Ishmael knows the first sentence of his speech by heart, though his knees are knocking together... (full context)
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Ishmael shifts his weight before he continues, and something hard jabs him on the inner thigh.... (full context)
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As Ishmael tries to decide if he’ll lose points for crawling under the desk to get his... (full context)
Chapter 31
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The next thing Ishmael knows, his body turns to rubber and he’s falling toward Kelly Faulkner. He comes to... (full context)
Chapter 32
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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... (full context)
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Ishmael is confused by what Razza means. Scobie, Bill, and Ignatius stare and realize that Ishmael... (full context)
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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,... (full context)
Chapter 33
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...Bill shoots strawberry milk out his nose). Ignatius, Razza, and Bill leave the room, leaving Ishmael with Scobie. Scobie assures Ishmael that he exhibited true St. Daniel’s spirit last night by... (full context)
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That night, Ishmael tries to forget that he groped Kelly Faulkner, but it’s impossible. Maybe he’s taking things... (full context)
Chapter 34
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On the first day after the September holidays, Ishmael has to break the bad news to Ignatius, Razza, and Bill: according to Miss Tarango,... (full context)
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...but Ignatius argues that they should forfeit. Bill says he doesn’t care, and Razza asks Ishmael for his opinion. Ishmael thinks hard before he says that for Scobie’s sake, they should... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Two weeks later, Ishmael and his teammates are locked in a classroom at Churchill Grammar. Finally, they get their... (full context)
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...when he realizes everyone else is staring at him. And surprisingly, Bill is making sense. Ishmael asks what Bill thinks of Harry Potter, and Bill gives a reasoned argument about how... (full context)
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This continues for the next 20 minutes. Ishmael then has enough written to formulate their arguments. But the question now is who’s speaking,... (full context)
Chapter 36
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A half-hour later, the debating team takes their seats. Ishmael studies the Preston team, who are dressed like undertakers. As Ignatius opens the debate, Ishmael... (full context)
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Ishmael looks down at his cards. Razza scribbled on it that Ishmael is “da man” and... (full context)
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...Bill stops, concludes his argument, and sits down. The room erupts in applause. Razza nudges Ishmael and nods in Bill’s direction. Bill looks different than usual—he’s smiling. (full context)
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...support them at the finals. And weirdly, the Preston kids don’t seem all that different. Ishmael’s favorite part is when Miss Tarango tells the team that they’re her heroes—and that Bill... (full context)
Chapter 37
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...he’ll “probably” be fine. Scobie isn’t sure when he’ll be back to school and asks Ishmael to keep this to himself. In a postscript, Scobie acknowledges that Miss Tarango is right:... (full context)
Chapter 38
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...school for “personal” and “family” reasons. This brings Barry suddenly back to life. Barry taunts Ishmael and asks what Ishmael is going to do without Scobie to protect him. Barry asks... (full context)
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It’s a Thursday. At assembly, the members of the debating teams get participation certificates, and Ishmael’s team gets special certificates for getting to the semifinals. It’s the first certificate Bill has... (full context)
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After school, Ishmael finds Bill at his locker. Bill can’t find his debating certificate, which isn’t a surprise—Bill... (full context)
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Ishmael suggests they go check Bill’s desk, just in case it got stuck in a book.... (full context)
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Ishmael feels terrible. He’s terrible at helping people. The boy he helped just got his hat... (full context)
Chapter 39
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Miss Tarango is more than happy to make Bill a new certificate; Ishmael tells her Bill lost his and is too embarrassed to ask for a new one.... (full context)
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Ishmael asks what Bill has ever done to Barry. Barry quips that Bill is so fat... (full context)
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Ishmael still feels terrible a week later, when Razza asks if Ishmael will go with him... (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... (full context)
Chapter 40
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Ishmael spends the night of the debating final trying to contain Razza (who gets very enthusiastic... (full context)
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Kelly asks about the peg person. Ishmael notes that it was Ringo from the Beatles and briefly explains Prue’s influential peg person... (full context)
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Kelly shakes her head and says she’s really here to thank Ishmael for helping her brother, Marty. Ishmael is shocked. Kelly explains that Marty came home and... (full context)
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Ishmael says his name is “stupid.” Kelly says it’s interesting, but Ishmael explains that his name... (full context)
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Just as Kelly starts to excuse herself, she stops and points behind Ishmael to where Razza is leaping around and making faces at Ishmael. She asks if Ishmael... (full context)
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Ishmael tells Kelly that Razza is actually a superhero, but he has to pretend to be... (full context)
Chapter 41
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As Razza and Ishmael wait for Razza’s mom, Razza insists that because Ishmael “rescued” Marty from Barry, there’s no... (full context)
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That night, Ishmael decides that no matter what Razza says, Kelly will stay in his daydreams. And second,... (full context)
Chapter 42
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Reading Moby-Dick isn’t at all straightforward. Dad insists that Ishmael can’t read the abridged version, so Ishmael finds himself staring down a thousand pages of... (full context)
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Reading is difficult, but Ishmael eventually gets caught up in the story. By the time he’s halfway through, though, he... (full context)
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Ishmael does relate to one character in Moby-Dick, though: Captain Ahab. Ishmael still has both his... (full context)
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...in Bill’s desk. He and his friends start grunting whenever Bill passes. What really angers Ishmael is that every time after Barry taunts Bill, Barry looks at Ishmael like he’s daring... (full context)
Chapter 43
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Two weeks before school lets out, things aren’t going well. Ishmael is buried in homework and studying for exams, and Mr. Barker tells the debating team... (full context)
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Ishmael stews and worries about having to speak in front of people at the event until... (full context)
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...says that Bill has wasted his week of preparation, as usual. When Bill sits down, Ishmael sees Mr. Barker put a D on the marking sheet. (full context)
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When class is over, Ishmael stays in his desk. Razza hangs back, and Ishmael tells him that Barry ruined Bill’s... (full context)
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Just then, Barry runs back into the classroom to fetch a football and notices Ishmael and Razza. He taunts the “girls” and asks if Razza is still wetting the bed.... (full context)
Chapter 44
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Ishmael finishes Moby-Dick that weekend. When he gives the book back to Dad, Dad insists they... (full context)
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That night, Ishmael has a strange dream. He’s at school, and his classroom turns into a swimming pool.... (full context)
Chapter 45
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Mom drops Ishmael off on the night of the final school event. Mom, Dad, and Prue can’t come,... (full context)
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...little while goes by in a blur. Rather than listening to the speeches and ceremonies, Ishmael stares at his reading—which isn’t the prayer that Mr. Barker helped him write. It’s a... (full context)
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Ishmael looks around the gym and finds Barry in the middle of the room. Barry is... (full context)
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As Ishmael takes the microphone, Barry suddenly doesn’t look threatening anymore. Ishmael sees a woman beside Barry... (full context)
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Ishmael says, “Let us pray that Barry,” but he stops. Barry slumps in his seat, looking... (full context)
Chapter 46
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Ishmael knows he said he was going to get revenge on Barry Bagsley, but seeing Mrs.... (full context)
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When Ishmael is done speaking, he takes his seat. He knows he made the right choice, but... (full context)
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Ignatius tells Ishmael, Razza, and Bill goodbye and leaves too. Then, Razza turns to Bill and asks what... (full context)
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...won’t understand what’s going on in the third if he doesn’t see the first two. Ishmael has seen the first two, so Razza says that, obviously, they have to have a... (full context)
Chapter 47
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Ishmael’s smile is huge as he watches Razza and Bill walk away. But it disappears when... (full context)
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As Ishmael and Barry stand and stare at each other, Mrs. Bagsley appears and kindly greets Ishmael.... (full context)
Chapter 48
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Ishmael desperately needs fresh air. But before he can escape, Mr. Barker asks Ishmael for a... (full context)
Chapter 49
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Ishmael looks around at the crowd one last time, still smiling—but before he can leave the... (full context)
Chapter 50
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Ishmael feels unstoppable. He races out of the school, across the football field, and out to... (full context)