Pages 1-31 Summary
Ivan is a gorilla.
He is sometimes called "the Freeway Gorilla...The Ape at Exit 8...The One and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback."
Ivan can understand human words, which is not the same as understanding humans. He was able to achieve this skill because he is patient, unlike humans.
"how i look"
Ivan used to be a wild gorilla. He strikes a majestic figure, "four hundred pounds of pure power." His back is adorned with "a snowy saddle of fur, the uniform of a silverback."
"the exit 8 big top mall and video arcade"
Ivan lives in a human habitat called the "Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade," located on I-95, the main north and south highway on the United States' East Coast. At the Mall there is a carousel, and circus shows at two, four, and seven daily. Stella, an elephant, lives in the domain next to Ivan's. She and Bob, a dog, are Ivan's best friends.
Ivan's domain is surrounded by three glass walls, and a fourth, which is made of cement, and sports a jungle scene. At the bottom corner of one of the glass walls is a small hole, made by Ivan with a baseball bat when he was six. From his domain, Ivan can see a giant sign at the edge of the freeway. On the sign is a picture of Mack, the boss at the Mall, dressed in his clown clothes. Stella, standing on her hind legs, is also depicted, as is a fierce, angry creature who is supposed to be Ivan. Ivan thinks the picture is inaccurate, because he is never angry. Silverback gorillas use anger "to maintain order and warn [their] troops of danger," but in Ivan's domain, there is no one to protect.
"the littlest big top on earth"
Everyday, the denizens of the Big Top Mall perform a show called "The Littlest Big Top on Earth." Mack, dressed as a clown, pedals a tiny bike, and Stella parades along with a dog named Snickers on her back. After the show, the humans who have come to watch "forage" through the gift shop for things like balloons, T-shirts, and caps.
Ivan does not do any tricks.
(The entire section is 924 words.)