Why did no one ever tell us how our world actually came to be? This novel gives us a completely new and different way to look at our world. The protagonist, Julie, in Daniel Quinn’s novel, “My Ishmael”, leads us through an unbelievable sequence of events. We get to learn how Julie, a young teenager that goes through her own personal paradigm shift through the teachings of a telepathic gorilla, Ishmael. Ishmael helps Julie see the world in a completely new way, facilitating her understanding on how the world might have been different if there certain events didn’t occur in our past. Daniel Quinn uses parables and allusions to help us come to a new understanding about our world, he teaches us to think differently about things we knew to be true our entire lives.
The use of parables in the novel facilitates to describe the different cultures of people and help us see more clearly, what has happened to people and their way of life throughout history. We begin to think about history in a different light, looking at it from a completely different perspective than the ways that we were taught in school and by our parents and grandparents things, we believed to be true, our entire lives. Quinn’s use of one of these first parables discusses how people in the beginning of time made decisions and choices that created the culture that we have today:
Terpsichore…. This was a planet (named, by the way, after the muse of dancing) …. For a time they lived as all others live, simply eating whatever came to hand….they noticed it was very easy to promote the regrowth of their favorite foods…. They didn’t have to take these steps in order to stay alive…. A few steps of the dance… three or four days a month… took almost no effort….Some continued to dance just a few steps every second or third day. Still others saw no reason why they shouldn’t mostly live on their favorite foods…. Things went on this way for tens of thousands of years…living in the hands of the gods and leaving everything to them. They called themselves Leavers…. But one group of Leavers eventually said to themselves, ‘Why should we just live partially on the foods we favor? All we have to do is devote a lot more time to dancing.’ This particular group … because they thought of taking their welfare into their own hands, we’ll call them Takers. (51-52)