The One and Only Ivan – Literature – Themes

Friendship helps you through loneliness

In the book The One and Only Ivan friendship plays a major role. Friendship is one of the few things the animals do have. They have the friendship between each other and the friendship to Julia, the cleaner’s child. Julia is loved by all the animals and she loves them as well and cares about them. Ivan promises to get Ruby out of the mall and for this promise he fights hard, which demonstrates how much Ruby means to him. Simultaneously, he knows that he can count on Julia and that Julia is going to understand his plan and help him. This book shows how strong and beautiful friendship can be and that animals can be more than animals; they can be true friends who are there to help you when you need them.

Life in imprisonment / animals in cages

As the book is written from the perspective of Ivan the gorilla, it shows the other side: the imprisonment of animals and how awful this is and how much they suffer. They suffer living in a small cage where boredom and loneliness are unavoidable. It makes the reader question whether it is right to keep animals in cages. Certainly, the author seems to be suggesting that this is completely unfair and wrong.

Importance of money

Money is a topic throughout the whole book. The animals are there to amuse people and to earn money. Their wellbeing does not matter as long as this goal is achieved. When Stella is badly injured, Mack the owner of the mall prefers not to call a doctor because this would be too expensive. Stella dies and we must ask whether she would still be alive if a veterinarian had examined her. The power of money causes characters in the novel to act in an inhumane way and thus, draws our attention to the dangers of pure capitalism and greed.


How children’s perspective differs from adults

Julia is a child and she shows how pure and innocent children are. Children differ from adults; they have a completely different view of the world. They see what matters. When Julia sees how sick Stella is, she immediately realizes that Stella needs help and asks the others to call a doctor. The author seems to be suggested that adults should learn from children and try to see the world through their eyes.