Sample Literature Paper on Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

Quinn’s determination and zeal to bring about change in the world was seen by how she yearned to meet a teacher who would guide him to accomplish his goals. In his entire lifetime, his desires were not met as he would not be able to find such a teacher. One day as he was perusing through the newspapers, he coincidentally came across an advertisement that he applied. After the application, he went to meet the most sought teacher and to his dismay, the teacher was a gorilla who had been detained after being found at an early age in the jungle.  The gorilla had learned to communicate properly.

Quinn agrees that Ishmael be his teacher and they proceed to have a variety of discussions on matters related to the world.  Ishmael is also excited to clarify to Quinn all the details concerning the historical nature of human beings which becomes Quinn’s major interest. In his elaboration, Ishmael describes and groups human beings into two broad categories that is the Takers and the Leavers. The Takers have dominion over all other creatures in the world and thus are considered to be very powerful. He also projects that this category consider people as being superior to animals thus having full dominion over the whole world. Despite their superiority in nature, Ishmael reveals that they are bound to fail and be destroyed simply because they have over utilized the resources allocated to them as well as the ecological conditions making it hard for them to survive.   Therefore, they are bound for destruction since they will have little or no resources to live on after the destruction of the ecological features that exist.

On the contrary, the Leavers are simple and are law abiding. They follow the rules to the letter and choose on living on simple lifestyles that are within their means. They are the exact opposite of the Takers as they are careful about the global resources that exist and are keen on conserving and preserving the resources for the satisfaction of all existence creatures. On the other hand, the leavers ensure that the resources used sustainably to cater for the needs of all the creatures and even the creatures in the future.

Towards the end of the story, Quinn attends classes less frequently due to his personal commitments. He is however committed to rescue Ishmael and have him released a plan that never happened as he died before the rescue mission was accomplished. From the knowledge that he had acquired from Ishmael, Quinn decided to assume the responsibility of becoming a teacher that will sensitize all humans on the dangers associated with the Taker group which will bring about an equilibrium of the diversity of life in the world.

The world has undergone drastic changes especially in the technological world which has in turn resulted in the change in the environmental sustainability. Just like Quinn argues, the technological advancements have led to clearing of forests to pave way for construction of industries which destroys the natural habitats of other living things (Quinn ,7).With the continuous clearing of land for such activities, other species or animals are left devastated with no place to live as their natural habitat is tampered with by human activities. The human beings directly hunt and kill the animals as highlighted by Quinn which exposes them to extinction as all the species are swiped away.

From my point of view, the argument presented by Quinn concerning the Takers and the Leavers relates well with those presented in the scholarly materials. Sahlins argues that humans are limited in nature and to fill up the gap, they carry out activities such as industrialization. Om the other hand, Quinn also benefited from Riane Eisler in that he got the clear difference between the humans and the animals (Eisler, 9). Following the advancement of agriculture, it is during this period that marked the beginning of industrialization that saw human beings intrude into the animal world. Quinn advocates for equal distribution of all the environmental and ecological resources to all humans and animals for sustainability.

Upon reading the book, I have realized that it is significant as it is a heads up on the injustices and unfairness that the humans are doing to the environment. Human beings regularly engage in activities that deplete the worth of the environment making it difficult for other creatures to live in.  There is unequal utilization of resources in a way that is not sustainable to all creatures.   On the other hand, the clearing of forests have led to issues such as globalization and threatening the existence of certain animal and plant species from existence. This book raises eyebrows on the current state of affairs regarding the environment. It thus serves as a warning to us concerning destruction of ecological systems as it leads to destruction of crucial animal and plant species (Goodland, 1). Human activities have become the highest contributors of the deteriorating condition of the animal world. Activities such as clearing the forests for industrial activities being the major cause.

This book plays a significant role in creating awareness to the humans on the need to ensure sustainability through embracing environmental conservation measures.


Work cited

Eisler, Riane. “Journey into the Lost World: The Beginnings of Civilization.” The              Chalice and the blade: Our History, Our Future, Harper One, 1988, pp. 1-15

Goodland, Robert. “The concept of environmental sustainability.” Annual review of ecology and systematics 26.1 (1995): 1-24.  Retrieved from


Quinn Daniel, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit. Bantam, 1995.