What is the major theme of The One and Only Ivan? Give two examples to support it.

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Payal Khullar | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan has several interesting themes. One of the most striking themes could be that of “human cruelty, insensitivity and greed”. For example, see how humans kidnap Ivan, a wild and young gorilla, from the jungles of Central Africa for trade. After distancing him from his family, Ivan is sold to Mack who imprisons him in the Exit 8 Big Top Mall for making money. Separation of Ivan from his home is a clear example of human greed, capable of making the audience teary eyed. Humans are shown to be greedy, cruel and barbaric. They are so greedy that they are not bothered about the life and freedom of the poor animals. They do not think twice before destroying animal families. Like Ivan, humans captivated many other animals (like Bob, Stella and Ruby) against their will. Besides this, humans give a poor atmosphere to the caged animals. They are forced to go against their natural instincts and entertain the visitors. The owner gives Ivan crayons and paper sheets not with the intention of making him happy but to make money by selling his artwork, which is a clear example of human greed. Applegate conveys the message that such an act is irrational and against humanity. Human greed leads to violence, destruction, loss and separation.