Michael Gerard Bauer’s ‘Don’t Call Me Ishmael’ peaks that being a young person has many problems, but that peers and relatives can help you conquer them. Throughout the text, the main protagonist Ishmael comes across a number of problems, involving bullying and low self-esteem. However, in the end, his friends and family play a big part in helping him deal with these frustrations and embarrassment.
Throughout the book it is shown that Ishmael and others around him get bullied. One of the things said were “Ishmael, was kind of a wussy crap name is that?” This is one of the many things said by the books antagonist, Barry Bagsley. However, Ishmael isn’t the only one that gets bullied by Barry and his gang. “A little boy was crying as his school hat was being thrown around by the school bully, Barry Bagsley.” Here, we see that bullying is a problem that happens to many people and Ishmael isn’t the only subject of the harsh words and mean actions. In the quote “What’s the matter fish-dick? Here’s your chance to be a hero, you’re not scared are ya?” you can see that Barry Bagsley makes Ishmael feel very uncomfortable and pressured to take action when he is confronted with a problem. It is shown in a different part of the text when Razza confesses that he too, gets bullied by Barry. This makes Ishmael feel like he has somebody to relate to and to know that he isn’t alone. As discussed, all of the impact of the bullying is bad, but Ishmael has his peers and relatives to help him through it.
Some challenges that Ishmael comes across are low self-esteem and the way that he views himself. It is shown many times throughout the novel that Ishmael has a low self-confidence and is self-deprecating when it comes to facing these challenges. This is made known when Ishmael is talking about his crush Kelly Faulkner when he says “she’s probably forgotten all about me already”. In the quote, he was referring to when he spoke with Kelly, associating himself to a piece of wood when compared to her. In both of these quotes, it is made very clear that Ishmael doubts himself when speaking and interacting with other people. However, on the flip side, Ishmael also dislikes his name which is a big factor in his bad attitude towards himself. Ishmael believes that he has a syndrome. At the very start of the book, he says “It’s time I faced up to the truth. I’m fourteen years old and I have Ishmael Leseur’s Syndrome.” This quote shows that Ishmael doesn’t like his name and this stops him from showing confidence in the way he presents himself. In summary, Ishmaels self-esteem has been effected in many ways but he can overcome the challenges and have positive opinions about himself.
At the start of the book, Ishmael felt uncomfortable while talking about his family but this quickly changed when he met the great, year nine debating team. After he got to know these people, they quickly became his friends and Ishmael