The name "Ishmael" is associated with being an outcast. Ishmael never truly gets involved in Abab's plan for revenge. He is also one of the few men to have a true friend on board the ship, Queequeg. His lack of involvement in the revenge plus his connection with another man saves his life. It is Queequeg's coffin that he clings to until the Rachel, looking for the lost son of the captain, finds him. Since he is more of an observer than a participant, he can tell the story from a more objective standpoint than others from the crew.