Moby Dick and the origin of "American hero"
Moby Dick begins with the narrator's statement: "Call me Ishmael." The statement communicates the narrator's feelings of identity with the biblical Ishmael, Abraham's son with Hagar. After Sarah, Abraham's legitimate wife, gave birth to Isaac, Ishmael was disinherited in favor of his younger half-brother, and renounced by his father. He and his mother were thrown out of the family home, forced to live in wilderness and provide for themselves anyway they could. Therefore, the very name "Ishmael" became a synonym for an exile, an outcast.
The Ishmael from Moby Dick (an exile and an outcast)…
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