If Ishmael Were Not "Ishmael..."
This is Daniel Quinn's own handwriting as he scribbled the various possible names for the main character in his yet-to-be award-winning novel... Lots of people wonder why "Ishmael?" Here's the answer...
"According to our cultural mythology, God lost interest in all other creatures on this planet when humans came along. (Although nonhumans came first, our mythology tells us they were not God's "true" children. Rather, it is humans who are God's true children.) According to Genesis, this is exactly what happened to Ishmael when Isaac came along: his father Abraham lost interest in him. (Although Ishmael came first, he was not Abraham "true" son. Rather it was Isaac who was his true son.) In other words, what Genesis says happened to Ishmael is exactly what our mythology says happened to the non-human community on this planet. This makes "Ishmael" an appropriate name for someone who speaks for this community."