Study Guide

The One and Only Ivan Chapters 1-5

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Chapters 1-5

hello, names, patience, how I look, the exit 8 big top mall and video arcade

  • Meet Ivan, our narrator, the dude at the heart of the story, and a gorilla.
  • Humans have given him many impressive names: the Mighty silverback, the One and Only Ivan. 
  • But Ivan likes to keep it simple, so it's just Ivan for him.
  • Gorillas, he explains, don't like to waste words… unlike humans. 
  • And speaking of humans and words, he understands what humans say and thinks that they waste a lot of time chattering—like chimps. 
  • Gorillas are also as patient as stones, and apparently skilled at making metaphors.
  • Ivan says he is no longer a wild gorilla, but still looks the part; he is four hundred pounds of pure power, and mightier than any human. 
  • Ivan lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, a circus-themed shopping center in a human habitat made of cement and glass.
  • He calls this his domain. 
  • One of the walls of his cell has a jungle scene with a waterfall painted on it (nice try, humans).
  • Mack, the resident clown-human, is the boss
  • Ivan's best friends are Stella, an elephant, and Bob, a dog. 
  • He is lucky to have a view of the mall and the world beyond it, which consists of a treeless parking lot, the freeway, and a billboard with images of an angry gorilla and a clown on it. 
  • Ivan feels misrepresented, and says he is never angry. For gorillas, anger is precious, and a silverback should only use anger to maintain order or to warn his troop of danger.
  • Ivan remembers his father beating his chest to show that he was in charge. He knew his purpose: to protect his family. Ivan wished he had someone to protect. 
  • He also wishes he could read.

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