A Long Way Gone
Analysis Of “A Long Way Gone” By Ishmael Beah
In the book “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah, The conversation of childhood is not a very happy one. In the start, Beah is an happy child who likes hip-hop, but it all get obliterated in the matter of no time. Innocence and war are two things that go together like ketchup and Oreos, but in A Long Way Gone, this becomes the situation. Beah was not alone, citizens from His country became entangled in the war and had to do things that no one should have to do. Beah was told to murder people in questionable ways and experiment with cocaine and marijuana. People and especially children need to be kept away from destruction and war whatever it takes; Beah’s lost all of his innocence through actions he was forced to do.
The war changed Sierra Leone’s citizens, it weathered people down people to themselves no belongings or anything of the such. The rebels took families, killed them, raided their belongings, capture their children and made them murderers. Beah had to withstand all of it. In “A Long Way Gone”, Beah shows the passing of his childhood and also innocence. Beah discovers how different he was previous to the war when he says, “One evening we actually chased a little boy who was eating two boiled ears of corn himself” (Beah 30).
The lack of innocence began when he and his friends became hungry. The war had forced them into the jungle to fend for themselves, and they had no other option but to start doing rather questionable things for food. Like chasing that little boy and stealing his corn. At this point, Beah has been through quite a truckload and is so mixed up in the war, but when he gets new clothes, and his old ones get burned with his cassettes, that’s where his childhood is forever lost. That’s the time where the innocence went into the flames and melted away. He has nothing to grasp on to anymore to remind him of his old life. All children must of have had their equivalent to rap music. All of them must have lost something that represented their last hope. The way the children lost their childhoods and their identities do not go unnoticed in this story. But the point of Beah writing about it all is to get it out there for everybody to view. He claims this when he mentioned, “Because if I was to get killed upon my return, I knew that a memory of my existence was alive somewhere in the world” (200). When he presented at the UN conference he realized that all of what he’s been through isn’t for nothing. Most of what he went through in the war and the rehabilitation afterward wasn’t just going to be forgotten. People will read his story and they’ll try to help the other kids still out there fighting this war. He can make something good out of all of it. So he wrote it down into a book.
One would argue that this story is merely about a child having to go to war and more specifically speaking of Beah’s Story. This is actually false, the story paints a bigger picture about the struggles of having to make a very difficult decision that impacts everybody’s life. This story has a lot more to it than just a personal account of the war. It gives the reader a perspective on how something, at times very small can affect everyone and everything around you. His story is now out there to remember and reflect on at any point. Beah realizes that his childhood is forever lost. Ishmael reflects over his lost childhood when he says, “I tried to think about my childhood days, but it was impossible. ” Too much horrible and destructive things have happened to Beah’s childhood and innocence. Murdering people non-stop in extremely violent ways takes a big part of that away. But he has come to terms with it and is trying to move on now in New York City, he has also realized how important morals really are.
This book has enough motivational text to change things, which is exactly what Beah’s intentions were. Like the previous story, he speaks in the book about the monkey. The story is about making a decision that will hurt people either way but he chooses the option that relieves other people from having to make a hard decision. That story shapes the entire book; innocent people having to make difficult choices, and Beah makes the harder decision for himself but makes it easier for other people.
The Power Of Influence a Long Way Gone Novel
The Soldiers at Yele were ingenious with how they enticed the young boys. They didn’t simply captivate them and force them to do what they wanted. They used well thought out techniques to gain power over the boys. They drew them in, made them feel safe, and then turned them against the rebels breathing fury into their minds then sending them out to do to the ghastly killing and raiding
They enticed them into their little camp, making it seem like there was no choice, or rather convincing them there was no better option, as if this was the haven they had been searching for. When they first arrived at Yele it felt as if they were coming home, the atmosphere was home-like and deceivingly secure. “The village was always full of lively chattering and laughter (pg 101).” Naturally they were drawn to this joyful atmosphere, who wouldn’t be? After all they had been through already, they jumped at the chance of a peaceful place.
The soldiers used the power of trickery to make the boys trust them. On page 104 the Lieutenant makes him feel safe and connects with him by talking about Julius Caesar. This small bond he made with Ishmael just fortified the feeling of safety that was already in his mind. He seemed to have a sort of father figure, making this place seem so much better to him in his mind.
So the power of the security in this village called Yele was enough at first to justify the odd things about it. The orphaned children, the dead bodies in the river. Ishmael loved to work, so he busied his time with work, to get his mind of the thoughts that otherwise so easily consumed his mind. I think this theme runs throughout the entire book, the higher power using security as a form of power.
The people at Yele did it from the start. Making the boys feel welcome and secure, giving them clothes, food, and work to do. The people and the laughter provided the illusion of a sanctuary full of good people. “Gradually the smiles on people’s faces assured us that there was nothing to worry about anymore, all that darkened the mood of the village was the sight of orphaned children… Apart from this, there were no indications that our childhood was threatened, much less that we would be robbed of it. “ The poor boys are so disillusioned by the deception of safety at Yele. They had no foreshadowing in their minds that shortly, everything would be taken from them.
So with this sense of safety established, the Soldiers at Yele were able to do basically anything now and still are trusted by the boys. The fist wave of their power was imposed through a false sense of security. So now that they had the boys’ attention and trust, they moved along to the next stage. Fear.
However they didn’t resort to making themselves feared, they resorted to making the rebels feared. The horror that he was feeling was a result of the Lieutenants talking about the rebel. On page 116 the Lieutenant states that, “the rebels will kill anyone from this village because they will consider us their enemy, spies, or that we have sided with the other side of the war.” His fear of the unknown had overcome his thoughts this particular morning. “I tried to eat my breakfast, but fear had taken away my appetite (pg 107).”
“I got a black a Reebok Pump and was happier about my new crapes than anything else that was going on. I took of my old pants, which contained the rap cassettes. As I was putting on my new shorts, a soldier took my old pants and threw them into a blazing fire that had been set to burn our old belongings. I ran toward the fire but the cassettes had already started to melt. Tears formed in my eyes, and my lips shook as I turned away.” (A Long Way Gone, Pg 110)
This moment is so significant to the story line because in just those few fleeting seconds, his past was melted into the burning flames. Those cassettes had saved him countless times and now they were gone, vanished in to the atmosphere. There would be no more saving from this moment on, only luck. The fear that he felt must have been surreal, the tears in his eyes proved how terribly sad and scared he was about this. Yet this fear came with that resounding feeling of security.
Although his past just got thrown into flames, he still had somewhere to turn to. While the people at Yele had just destroyed his belongings, they otherwise seemed well intentioned enough to be trusted. So he kept on obeying them. Because when you make someone feel truly safe, then you do something bad to that person, they sort of justify it. It’s similar to domestic violence in that the power of the illusion of love justifies the violence and harm in the mind of the victim. So the victim continues to goes back.
The Corporal often inflicted fear on the boys as his form of power. It was his way of saying that they must do what he says or else use your imagination to fill in the blank. They could only imagine what sort of terrible thing might happen if they were to rebel. He would often tell them this one phrase so as to establish the thought in their minds. “Visualize the enemy, the rebels who killed your parents, your family, and those who are responsible for everything that has happened to you.” By making them fear all else, the rebels and the unknown. He made it to appear like there is no better option.
The boys were told, “the rebels are responsible for everything that has happened to you. (Pg 113)” being told this so frequently they were made to believe this. It drove them to loathe the rebels with everything in them. Daydreaming about killing the rebels had become pleasurable. The joy in their life was thinking about killing the people who had ruthlessly taken their families.
Using the trust already gained from the boys, the soldiers were able to convince them that anything was good for them. “The corporal said that it will boost your energy,” says the soldier on page 116, to make the boys take the drugs. Later on the same page, Ishmael “had never been so afraid to go anywhere in his entire life” so he “gripped his gun for comfort.” His mind had already been so influenced by Yele that he was already looking to the gun for comfort. The gun had power, the power of death, and he was already learning to use it.
The power of influence is so resoundingly loud in the book. On page 121 Ishmael talks about all the war movies they would watch in their free time. Then he says, “We all wanted to be like Rambo; we couldn’t wait to implement his techniques.” But the reason they watched those movies is because the soldiers provided them to be the best option, therefore the thing they would seemingly choose to do. So while they were busy obsessing over Rambo and how they admired him and wanted to be like him, they were really just a part of a plan. Ultimately they were being trained to be used as weapons of mass destruction.
Pg 126 “My squad was my family, my gun was my provider, and protector, and my rule was to kill or be killed. The extent of my thoughts didn’t go much beyond that. We had been fighting for over two years, and killing had become a daily activity. I felt no pity for anyone. My childhood had gone by without my knowing, and it seemed as if my heart had frozen. I knew that day and night came and went because of the presence of the moon and the sun, but I had no idea whether it was a Sunday or Friday.”
This on simple paragraph encapsulates the reality of the empowering influence he is under, and the drastic change that it has made in his life. He is a different person. The power of this war has made his mind go from that of a sweet 12-yearold boy to a heartless a killing machine. The power over him has hanged him in every way shape and form. It has infiltrated his very being. His thoughts, actions and desire are so completely influenced by the soldiers above him. His mind is so infected that he doesn’t seem to realize it. His desires including all of killing and drugs. It had become like a game to him, Killing is fun and rewarding to his mind.
It was like mind control. The way Yele used their methods to recruit these child soldiers. They began by proposing a safe haven to them, one that they could confide in and feel vulnerable. Then they talked to them about the horribleness of the rebels. They influentially forced them to hate the rebels too, therefore making themselves look like the good ones fighting for the right cause. Now that they had their perfectly tailored little child soldiers, they could do anything with them. They pumped them full of drugs and sent them out to do the dirty work, with the ever-present threat of something terrible if they so dared to disobey an order. So this was their ingenious plan to use manipulation and fear to hold their power over people.
Personal Writing: Why I Vouch For a Long Way Gone Over Blood Diamond
A Long Way Gone vs Blood Diamond Persuasive Writing
If someone was curious about the diamond wars in Sierra Leone and wanted to learn more, it would be more beneficial for them to read A Long Way Gone than to watch Blood Diamond. This is because A Long Way Gone is a firsthand account of the problems in Sierra Leone, the novel is much less sensationalized than the film, and the novel would overall be a more detailed and immersive experience.
A Long Way Gone is a firsthand account of the war by Sierra Leone native Ishmael Beah. He actually murdered whole villages along with his extremely young squadmates, and saw all the trouble caused in his country because of the blood diamonds. This would make the novel more genuine overall compared to the movie Blood Diamond.
The second reason I would recommend the book over the movie is that the book is much less sensationalized. A large amount of the population is easily bored and has a short attention span if the content isn’t very entertaining. Therefore, many adaptations of events are made more exciting by adding more action, characters, and exaggerated events. I believe that the movie Blood Diamond is a prime example of this. A large portion of the movie is the main characters shooting and fleeing from imminent danger; for some contrast, the majority of A Long Way Gone is Ishmael walking with his group, and Ishmael alone in rehabilitation. Only a small part of Ishmael’s true story is violence and intense fleeing, which shows just how sensationalized Blood Diamond really is. If I was trying to find more accurate information on a subject, I would not want to watch a movie that was marketed towards the Hollywood crowd.
The third and final reason I would recommend the memoir over the film is because it would be more detailed and immersive. This is one of the major reasons why most books are better than their movie adaptations. The books can capture details than movies simply cannot. By using diverse adjectives, adverbs, and unique word choices, books can create amazing imagery, or help the reader to create their own imagery. For example: “On one verandah we saw an old man sitting in a chair as if asleep. There was a bullet hole in his forehead, and underneath the stoop lay the bodies of two men whose genitals, limbs, and hands had been chopped off by a machete that was on the ground next to their piled body parts” (Beah 27). This scene would likely be much too gruesome to display in a movie theater, even if the film were rated R. In a book, however, anything goes; the author can write whatever they want with basically no restrictions, and the reader can use the passage given to them to form a scene in their head as gruesome as needed. This adds to the appeal of the book, and makes the situation being written feel more like reality than a fantasy story.
In conclusion, A Long Way Gone provides a much more detailed, immersive, and genuine experience compared to Blood Diamond. I would definitely recommend the book to anyone wishing to learn more about the Sierra Leone crisis, though I did enjoy both the book and the novel. If possible, I would recommend both reading the book and watching a movie to get two different perspectives.
Evaluation of the Concept of Conflict in Ishmael Beah’s Book, a Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
In 1993 the Sierra Leonean civil war has been raging for two years and death is spreading across the nation as the Revolutionary United Front(RUF) wages war against the government of Sierra Leone. In the novel A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier the author Ishmael Beah at the age of twelve is displaced from his home and given a choiceless choice, become a child soldier or die. Ishmael chose to live as a soldier. At this point Ishmael changed from a victim of the war into a participant in it. During his time in the army Ishmael witnessed and committed gruesome acts of violence. How did this violence affect him and what are the consequences and aftereffects of violence?
Over the course of the book violence became second nature to Ishmael. At the start of his journey Ishmael was greatly disturbed by violence and on multiple occasions threw up as a result of seeing a corpse. ”The image of that woman and her baby plagued my mind as we walked back to Mattru Jong. I barely noticed the journey,and when I drank water I didn’t feel any relief even though I knew I was thirsty. I didn’t want to go back to where that woman was from; it was clear in the eyes of the baby that all had been lost.” But by the end of the book Ishmael is completely unaffected by the violent acts he witnesses or commits. “I grabbed the man’s head and slt his throat in one fluid motion. His Adam’s apple made way for the sharp knife, and I turned the bayonet on its zigzag edge as I brought it out.” Ishmael was dehumanized by the army. They trained him to kill and drugged him up so that he would think about what he was doing.”The combination of these drugs gave us a lot of energy and made us fierce. The idea of death didn’t cross my mind at all and killing had become as easy as drinking water.” They also dehumanized the enemy. They told Ishmael that the rebels were all responsible for the death of his family and that he needed to take revenge.
During his time in the war Ishmael developed PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder. PDSD is a brain disorder that is caused by traumatic events.PTSD is especially found in soldiers as a direct result from the violence they witness while on duty. This disorder can have many symptoms including Nightmares,flashbacks,hostility,severe anxiety,and violent outbreaks.Ishmael frequently had nightmare about death and his family.”I would dream that a faceless gunman had tied me up and begun to slit my throat with the zigzag edge of his bayonet. I would feel the pain that the knife inflicted as the man sawed my neck. I’d wake up sweating and throwing punches in the air.”
The violent atrocities committed by both sides of the war gruesome and extremely inhumane.The RUF used amputation to instill fear into the civilian population. Fear is one of the main intended aftereffects of violence. If people fear you they will stay out of your way and you can potentially exploit them so that you can meet your end goal. The RUF would amputate and brand random civilians that they found and have them send messages to villages that are going to be attacked without clarifying when they would attack.The RUF was notorious for amputations. The RUF raped,murdered,and destroyed everything in its path. The RUF burned down villages and everyone living in them. Ishmael’s family was killed during a fire attack on a village.”On other paths of the village were half-burnt remains of those who had fought fiercely to free themselves only to die outside. They lay on the ground in different postures of pain, some reaching for their heads, the white bones in their jaws visible, others curled up like a child in a womb, frozen.” The government army was much better as they would hold competitions between child soldiers,whichever one could execute a prisoner fastest would be promoted.
These are just some of the consequences and aftereffects of violence. Violence changes people and turns them into savages. At the end of the day violence is a part of human history that is terrible and almost universally noticed as negative but I don’t think that anything can be done to truly end it.This book helped reinforce my knowledge on the terrible violence of war and the consequences it has on the individuals that partake in it.
The Memoir of Ishmael Beah as Depicted In His Book, A Long Way Gone
In A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah, Beah shares his harrowing experience as a child growing up in Sierra Leone. He triumphs through many changes and obstacles throughout his book. The most notable of which is how he goes from child soldier back to a functioning person in society.
At the beginning of the book Beah talks about his simple uninterrupted life as a child growing up in Sierra Leone. “On the morning that we left for Mattru Jong, we loaded our backpacks with notebooks of lyrics we were working on and stuffed our pockets with cassettes of rap albums.” This shows how simple and innocent he was before the world he knew caught fire and burned down in front of him. He later says “Whenever I get a chance to observe the moon now, I still see those same images I saw when I was six, and it pleases me to know that that part of my childhood is still embedded in me.” This is by far the most important quote from the book. It shows that through everything he had been through, all the hardships he’s lived though he realizes that he was robbed of his childhood experiences.
Towards the middle of the book Beah bounces between refuges (ruined villages or areas) and is instituted by the government’s army. It is at this point in his story that he starts to fall apart and become ensnared by the war against the rebels. Many horrible things happen to him at this stage of is woeful tale. One of those moments which stands out to me is when he writes “His Adam’s apple made way for the sharp knife, and I turned the bandit on zigzag edge as I brought it out. His eyes rolled up and they looked me straight in the eye before they suddenly stopped in a frightful glance, as if caught by surprise.”(Pg.125) He killed a man at 12 years old. If that’s not the definition of fucked up I don’t know what is. He also says at one point “We had been fighting for over two years, and killing had become a daily activity. I felt pity for no one. My childhood had gone by without my knowing, and it seems as if my heart had frozen.“(Pg.126) Killing has become a routine thing for Beah at this point. He has become brainwashed into thinking that doing this was normal and right when in fact the opposite was true.
At the end of the book Beah is rehabilitated at a hospital and later becomes a spokesman for UNICEF. At the beginning he says “That night, as I sat on the verandah listening to some of the boys discuss the volleyball game I had missed, I tried to think about my childhood days, but it was impossible, as I began getting flashbacks of the first time I slit a man’s throat. The scene kept surfacing in my memory like lightning on a dark rainy night.” (Pg.160) This goes to show that he is haunted by his past actions. He also writes “Leslie had told me that I was to be “repatriated” and reinstated into normal society.” (Pg. 178) This shows that he was successful in trying to adapt to a normal life.
The most incredible thing about Beah’s story is how he bounces back into civil society even after all he has been through. He did drugs, killed people and was shot. Now he seeks to help people in positions similar to his own when he was growing up. He seeks to help the world become a better place. That’s admirable in my book. Even if the events weren’t 100% accurate it still gets the message across.
Analysis of a Long Way Gone, a Memoir of Ishmael Beah
A Long Way Gone is the memoir of a child soldier, 12-year-old Ishmael Beah, who is forced to go to war in Sierra Leone. His village is attacked while he and his brother, Junior, and friends are away at a talent show. After the attack they resort to going from village to village in search of food and shelter and thrive on stealing from others to survive. They seek refuge at a village called Mattru Jong and reside there until a rebel army comes in and raids the village. The boys flee, only to be struck by hunger and hopelessness. They decide to make the dangerous journey back into their village to collect their money and belongings, even though the rebel army is still in the village. The boys broke up into groups in order to stay hidden. On the way out of the village one of the boys get stuck behind and discovered by the rebels. This is when the group begins to break apart.
They eventually are taken into a village controlled by the government army. They manage to escape and go to a village called Kamator, where they stay for about a month. They are offered food and shelter if they acted as guards for the village. Soon enough, the rebels also attack Kamator. Ishmael loses his brother in the midst of all the confusion, but is reunited with his friend Kaloko. They try to find their family and friends but are unsuccessful. Ishmael decides to leave the village in search of somewhere safe. Kaloko decides to stay behind, and Ishmael goes on his journey alone.
Ishmael wanders through the forest, forced to drink stream water and live off of nearly nothing. He meets a group of boys after a month of solitude and decides to stay with them. On their journey, they are taken into a village controlled by the Sierra Leone army. There, they are forced to become soldiers for the army in exchange for food, water, and shelter. Once they become soldiers for the army, they are forced to commit crimes and take numerous, harmful drugs such as cocaine. Under control of Lieutenant Jabrati, he and the other children raid, loot, and murder. They are brainwashed into believing their actions are right, and are trained to stop at nothing.
Ishmael and the boys in his unit continue to fight until one day a UNICEF truck comes into the village and Lieutenant Jabrati turns the boys over. They are offered food and clothes but are uncooperative due to their natural fighting nature. They cause havoc and are extremely violent toward their teachers, nurses, and supervisors. They seek to be respected and feared, and get frustrated at the UNICEF workers’ patience with them. Ishmael’s nightmares and migraines become nearly unbearable, while memories of his childhood as a soldier consume his thoughts. In this time, he becomes close with his unit nurse, Esther. She helps him overcome the pain and depression he is going through.
Half a year at the center has gone by, and UNICEF workers begin to plan Ishmael’s placement in a foster home. Ishmael mentions his uncle, Tommy. He has never met Tommy, but his father mentioned him before. Tommy is located and comes to the center to visit him and eventually Tommy goes home with him and starts a new life with his new family. After a while, Ishmael is visited by one of the workers at UNICEF. He is presented the opportunity to be interviewed to travel to New York to speak to the UN about his experience as a soldier. He meets with an interviewer who chooses Ishmael to be sent to the United States. He meets Laura Simms, a storyteller that helps him in New York. When it is time for him to leave, Laura gives him her address and phone number to stay in touch.
He returns to live with Tommy and violence begins again. Supplies begin to run low and Tommy dies of a fever. At this point, Ishmael has no other option but to escape from Sierra Leone. He calls Laura, who agrees to let him stay with her in America. He is able to cross the border to Guinea and makes his way to New York to live in his new home with Laura.
A Long Way Gone brought the horrible brainwashing that children endured at their time as soldiers to light. “Sometimes we were asked to leave for war in the middle of a movie. We would come back hours later after killing many people and continue the movie as if we had just returned from intermission. we were always either at the front lines, watching a war movie, or doing drugs. There was no time to be alone or to think.” (p. 124) This passage really stood out and described the severity of the child soldiers’ treatment.
This passage vividly described how children that were part of the civil war in Sierra Leone were brainwashed into believing war is supposed to be a normal part of everyday life. They were given drugs to numb their emotions and keep their feelings from preventing them from fighting. This passage really opened my eyes and made me realize just how lucky I am for everything I have. These children go through being drugged and brainwashed, which proves just how blessed I am to have food, shelter, water, and a family and friends that love me.
A Long Way Gone was one of the most influential books I have ever read. It really brought the struggle of the child soldiers in Sierra Leone to light. It helped me understand the severity of the situation, especially with the Kony 2012 campaign in effect. Kony 2012 is a campaign working against leaders in Africa who capture children and force them into becoming child soldiers. Reading A Long Way Gone has let me look into a child soldier’s life and see just how much help these children need.
I would definitely recommend this book to others. It kept me interested and always wanting to keep reading. The memoir style also provided an up close and personal look into the lives of child soldiers. I believe that everybody should read this book since the problem of civil war and rebel soldiers still exists. Ishmael’s haunting memories are extremely thought provoking, and they made me think about the extreme cultural differences between America and 3rd world countries where civil war is still an issue.
Discussion On Whether We Perpetuate The Stereotypes Of Africa By Reading A Long Way Gone By Ishmael Beah
In this essay, I will be discussing the whether or not we perpetuate the stereotypes of Africa by reading ‘A long way gone’. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007) is a memoir written by Ishmael Beah, an author from Sierra Leone. The book is a firsthand account of Beah’s time as a child soldier during the civil war in Sierra Leone (1990s). Ishmael Beah ran away from his village at the age of 12 after it was attacked by rebels, and he became forever separated from his immediate family. Later own his was forced him to join their army and brainwashed him into taking drugs and using guns. I believe that as a reader of this novel myself I have begun to acquire a prejudice of violence and hatred surrounding Africa which I know is not true. Racially stereotyping consists of constructed beliefs that all members of the same race share the same characteristics and lifestyle (usually meant negatively). I will be looking into both the benefits of A long way gone and the disadvantages.
I do not think that books, news articles etc. should always only focus on the poverty and the lower development of Africa because you can’t just base the whole of the diverse range of culture in Africa on a few stereotypes since this is what many people still believe Africa to be, a war zone, even though it has developed tremendously. I believe that to an extent A long way gone does perpetuate racial stereotypes because it does enforce negative stereotypes although this book could also be seen as an exception given this particular topic.
This book is written in the perspective of someone who has gone through this experience and I believe that it is his right, as a previous child soldier to be able to share it however he wants whether it is in a negative way or positive, and if it weren’t for books like ‘A long way gone’ nobody would be as informed about this situation. I also think that in some cases throughout the book Ishmael actually did the opposite of enforcing stereotypes of Africa as a whole, since his characters are all written with a lot of depth since it is from a perspective of someone who was present in the war and not someone who is influenced by racial shallow stereotypes to develop their characters.
With all that being said I also believe that certain audiences could view this book differently. Since some could think that this book only attempts to portray the negative side of Africa, it is giving out a view of Africa in a whole as a war zone where all the children are stolen from homes and either killed or turned into child soldiers. And the readers could also start to acquire a prejudice of violence and hatred surrounding Africa if they are not from there, been there or more informed since many stories that are told from Africa are about tragedies and not so much bliss. This is why I do not think that books, news articles etc. should always only focus on the poverty and the lower development of Africa because you can’t just base the whole of the diverse range of culture in Africa on a few stereotypes or else African stereotypes will never change and it will always just continue to be a low developed war zone with violence and disease which it is not since Africa is continuously developing and improving its economical and political status.
In conclusion, I believe that although ‘A long way Gone’ does perpetuate the stereotypical notions on Africa. I still feel that A Long Way Gone stands out from the rest of the books because of its author and his unique experiences. In a continent where journalistic interest appears disappointingly low, Ishmael Beah’s personal memoir is an important testament to the children who continue to be conscripted into armies and militias today.
Analysis Of Baeh And His Friends In A Long Way Gone
Baeh, his brother, and their friends escaped from rebel attack and finding places to hide themselves. Beah was thinking about his families whether will be able to see them again. All of them are too quiet and seem like everyone is thinking about their stuffs in the way to an abandoned village. They spend days wandering in searching substantial food, instead of just eating raw cassava or banana. They feel distraught with anxiety and vision blurred without food. Therefore, they had no choice and decide to return Mattru Jong to get some money to buy food.
They saw the terrifying scene when walking back to the town. They walk on the bodies, furniture or clothes that scattered on the verandah. Body part like genitals, limbs and hands had been chopped off by the rebels. Beah feel like vomiting and disgusting. They continue their way to Khalilou’s house fast but yet cautiously. They almost caught by the rebels, but lastly get to avoid from it. Rebels are escorting groups of young women to somewhere. When they arrive Khalilou’s house, the house was torn and there is no food in it. But luckily, Beah found some money and keeping inside his cape secretly.
They planned well to exit the town by crawling among the dead bodies carefully as there are rebels guarding at the wharf. Nearly everyone makes it safety, but someone fell out an aluminium tin and this may get the attention of the rebels. A boy that carrying a big bag of things caught by the rebels as he refuses to leave the bag and running away. They feel happy as they have money to buy some food. Going to the market, and realized that no one is selling food, due to saving it for worse conditions. The money is worthless. They went and stole other’s food while they slept to get through the night.
In my opinion, Baeh and his friends show that they are care about their family and wish to hear from them. The war is horror and terrible, but yet their hunger may be worse than that. I think that they are brave enough and willing to take risk of their life, in order to get some food even it is dangerous. They do not regret of what they had did, and just go for it. The rebels are brutal, as we can clearly see through the description of the scenario, that is bloody body scattered everywhere in Mattru Jong. Besides, the rebels treated the children and women badly as rebels ordered them to do things that they are unwilling to do it. Money is a miracle for them, as the rebels cannot compared to after money.
They seem understand the danger they are in, after they get the attention from the rebels. One of the boy couldn’t escaped from it, because he is to greedy and wish to take more, so he is killed at last by the rebels. In the state of war, money isn’t valuable. Beah couldn’t have right to blame anyone, because everyone has the same responsibility to deal with it. When human meet danger as in the situation in war, they will do something unexpected such as forced to theft other’s food or property in order to survive. This reaction illustrates their adaptability and survival skills. Things might change rapidly in a matter of seconds and no one had any control over anything. Therefore, we should appreciate everything we have and learn from the mistakes.
The Lack of Compassion and the Consequences of Forgiveness in Lord of the Flies and A Long Way Gone
Compassion through Rehabilitation
The boys stuck on the island in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Ishmael Beah himself in his book A Long Way Gone represent individuals that once had humanity, but got their humanity taken away due to disastrous circumstances. In Lord of the Flies, the boys have issues on who is in charge. Ralph, was the voted upon leader of the boys, but Jack does not share the same views as Raph, thus they end up fighting. Jack’s described by Golding as, “His face was crumpled and freckled, and ugly without silliness. Out of this face stared two light blue eyes, frustrated now, and turning, or ready to turn, to anger” (20). Piggy tries his best to keep everything set and in order, so everything can be peaceful and so that the “little uns” don’t get frightened. In A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah becomes dehumanized from joining the army to avenge the deaths of his family. Beah, after being severely affected by the horrors of the war, goes back to his old compassionate self after being rehabilitated at the Benin Home; thus challenging Golding’s hypothesis which states: evil exerts a stronger pull on human beings than good. Ishmael Beah’s regained compassion allows him to tell others about the happenings in Sierra Leone, contradicting the death of rules and order in Golding’s Lord of the Flies as well as the lack of humanity displayed in Ishmael’s war years.
The boys from Lord of the Flies demonstrate their lack of compassion over time they by killing their only means of rules and order. Toward the end of the novel, when Jack had taken their only means of a signal fire, Piggy’s glasses, Piggy and Ralph and two other “big uns” go to ask for his glasses.  Jack d isagrees; resulting in Ralph and Jack quarrelling; Piggy, on the other hand, holds the conch in his hand trying to stop Ralph and Jack. At the same time, Roger leaned his body weight against the lever which contained the rock. The narrator describes how “the monstrous red thing bounded” :
The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist. Piggy, saying nothing, with no time for even a grunt, traveled through the air sideways from the rock, turning over as he went […] Piggy fell forty feet and landed on his back across the square red rock in the sea. His head opened and stuff came out and turned red. Piggy’s arms and legs twitched a little bit, like a pig’s after it has been killed. Then the sea breathed again in a long, slow sigh, the water boiled white and pink over the rock; and when it went, sucking back again, the bo dy of Piggy was gone. (Golding 181)
Golding symbolizes the death of rules and order when he described the conch “exploding into a thousand pieces,” the narrator is pointing out how the boys tarnished their only forms of keeping everything in order: the conch, and Piggy. The conch was used to assemble all the boys attention in order to come to mutual understanding. Additionally, when Golding narrates, “the body of Piggy was gone,” it resembles the death of reason as well as rules and order. Golding goes on narrating, “Piggy’s arms and legs twitched a little bit, like a pig’s after it has been killed,” portraying Piggy’s unpopularity among the boys. Golding restates the boys lack of respect for Piggy thorough symbolism– “sucking back again, the body of Piggy was gone” – representing how invaluable Piggy was to the boys, when he was the person that held on to his humanity and tried to make the boys do the same. Piggy has been trying to make the rival groups of boys get along with the conch, but now that Piggy and the conch have been killed off, laws cease to exist; leaving the boys with no better reason to kill.
Ishmael Beah in his book A Long Way Gone, turned his goals of avenging the death of his family into his daily reality of taking revenge on innocent individuals without reason. When Ishmael got recruited into the army he was frightened and nervous, but after his first battle with the “enemy”, the RUF, he felt comfortable holding his AK-47, and adjusted to the life of taking brown brown to not feel guilty for the death of innocents. Ishmael recollects how his heartless self would be on a daily basis :
My squad was my family, my gun was my provider and protector, and my rule was to kill or be killed. The extent of my thoughts didn’t go much beyond that. We had been fighting for two years, and killing had become a daily activity. I felt no pity for anyone. My childhood had gone by without my knowing, and it seemed as if my heart had frozen. I knew that day and night came and went because of the presence of the moon and sun, but I had no idea whether it was a Sunday or a Friday . (126)
Ishmael shares his mantra would be “kill or be killed,” representing his state of dehumanization at the time. In addition, Being a child soldier changed Ishmael’s mental state– “The extent of my thoughts didn’t go much beyond that” – proving he does not put thought into what he is doing. Ishmael is taking part in killing fearing all the guilt he would have to go through if he were to stop and think about what he had done. Ishmael goes on saying, “killing had become a daily activity. I felt no pity for anyone,” showing how Ishmael was so used to this daily routine that he didn’t want to stop and think because of all the risks that come along with it. Ishmael knew deep down that the people he was killing had loved ones who would be as sad as he was when his parents and brother had died. However, if he did think that who he was killing were told to avenge the death of their family, just like himself; he would have to face all the pain of guilt, loneliness, and betrayal as a result. Ishmael’s “heart had frozen” and he had “no idea whether it was a Sunday or a Friday ,” emphasizing how Ishmael shut down part of his mind and emotions to even remember the date so he would not have to face the guilt. Ishmael was lacking the reason of thinking along with the boys in Lord of the Flies because they are both not willing to face the consequences of their actions to have compassion for humankind again.
Ishmael Beah in A Long Way Gone recognizes that the challenging situations he was placed in were not his fault, allowing him to have perseverance and hope for the future. Ishmael was given the opportunity to go to the UN Economic and Social Council in New York to share his experiences as a child soldier. At New York, Ishmael sees that life in New York was not the way he thought it was. At first he decided that he would not want to live in a country that was cold all the time, but after he started hearing people’s stories from different parts of the world he was intrigued, and admired them for their perseverance in challenging situations. Ishmael described how he regained his compassion and learned to have hope:
I am from Sierra Leone, and the problem that is affecting us children is the war that forces us to run away from our homes, lose our families, and aimlessly roam the forests. As a result, we get involved in the conflict as soldiers, carriers of loads, and in many other difficult tasks. All this is because of starvation, the loss of our families, and the need to feel safe and be a part of something when all else has broken down. I joined the army really because of the loss of my family and starvation. I wanted to avenge the deaths of my family. I also had to get some food to survive, and the only way to do that was to be part of the army. It was not easy being a soldier, but we just had to do it. I have been rehabilitated now, so don’t be afraid of me. I am not a soldier anymore; I am a child. We are all brothers and sisters. What I have learned from my experiences is that revenge is not good. I joined the army to avenge the deaths of my family and to survive, but I’ve come to learn that if I am going to take revenge, in that process I will kill another person whose family will want revenge; then revenge and revenge and revenge will never come to an end. (199)
Ishmael says “We get involved in conflict”, Ishmael’s demonstrating his understanding of forgiveness. Esther, the nurse that would talk to him at the Benin Home, his uncle, and the others who work at the Benin Home constantly told Ishmael that it was not his fault, Ishmael was able to go through the path of forgiving himself. Further on, Ishmael explained his innocence, “All this is because of starvation, the loss of our families, and the need to feel safe and be a part of something when all else has broken down,” further showing that he forgave himself. In Addition, Ishmael proves he found himself: “I am not a soldier anymore; I am a child,” admitting that while he was in the army he considered himself a soldier. Before the war, he considered himself a child because he had not gone through the horrid challenges of war. When Ishmael was forced to face these adult challenges at a young age, but went through the risks of forgiving himself, demonstrate his rehabilitation has allowed him to regain some of his childhood back and thus become the compassionate person he used to be. When Ishmael narrates, “revenge and revenge will never come to an end,” now Ishmael has completely understood the cycle of revenge and learned a major life’s lesson. Ishmael now knows better than to get revenge because of his experience as a child soldier; this knowledge will help him become a be the better person when dealing with relationships in his life. Ishmael’s speech is significant because it depicts how Ishmael has changed from his stay at the Benin Home. Furthermore, Ishmael’s regained compassion from his rehabilitation at the Benin Home made him want to share his story to others arounds the world; a sheer act of compassion. Ishmael Beah proves that it is possible to regain humanity after living through traumatizing moments, contradicting Golding’s hypothesis.
While Lord of the Flies and A Long Way Gone show individuals lacking reason blindly in order to face the risky consequences of forgiveness. Lord of the Flies does not have an aftermath unlike A Long Way Gone where a dehumanized Ishmael becomes rehabilitated. Ishmael demonstrates his understanding of revenge and understands to forgive himself in order to start the rehabilitation process. The lack of humanity from the boys in Lord of the Flies, and Ishmael’s horrors committed as a child soldier is outweighed by Ishmael’s moving speech in New York, and Golding hypothesis is contradicted because their is definitive proof of real life situations. Ishmael changes himself from the self-forgiveness and hope he gains from the people surrounding him. In Lord of the Flies, the boys killed the only person who displayed compassion and that left them with no reason to kill the enemy. In A Long Way Gone, we see Ishmael traveling across the country to alarm others about child soldiers. We are left to believe that the compassion in A Long Way Gone is more impactful because Golding’s form of compassion died.
Critical Reflection On A Long Way Gone By Ishmael Beah
The book “A Long Way Gone” is about a boy named Ishmael Beah who lives in Sierra Leone. Ishmael Beah was born in 1980 and lived in a village with his mother, father, and two little brothers. In 1991, the Sierra Leone Civil War started. Rebels invaded Beah’s hometown, Mogbwemo, located in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone, and he was forced to flee. Separated from his family, he spent months wandering south with a group of other boys. At the age of 14, he was forced to become a child soldier. According to Beah’s account, he fought for almost three years before being rescued by UNICEF (The United Nations Children’s Fund). The main message that the author is trying to convey to the audience is that war and manipulation can turn innocence into evil.
When Ishmael was a little boy he lived in a village with his family. At ten years old his brother Junior taught him about hip-hop and they later started a dance group with his friends, Talloi and Khalilou. He spent his days going to school, performing in talent shows with his dance group, and listening to his cassette player. When refugees started to come to Ishmael’s village he was confused about the stories that happened to people. He thought that their stories were exaggerated and the only wars he knew where from books and movies such as Rambo: First Blood. “My imagination at ten years old didn’t have the capacity to grasp what had taken away the happiness of the refugees.”
When Ishmael was first touched by war he was 12 years old. He left home with Junior and friends, Talloi and Khalilou. They were walking to a village to perform at a talent show when their home was attacked by rebels. The group of boys had no home and no one to turn to, so they had no other choice than to continue moving and to get as far away from the rebels as possible. Over the next two years Ishmael was fleeing from village to village trying to survive. He was separated from Junior after an attack, only a few weeks after leaving home for the talent show. He encountered many attacks and near-death experiences over the years. Dead bodies littered every village and road that the rebels and government passed though. Innocent people were killed for no reason in front of him countless of times. He became numb to every experience and had nightmares. He was constantly scared and tired. He was eventually recruited by the government to become a soldier. All the boys in the army where around thirteen but some were as young as seven. The lieutenant and their superiors told the boys that the rebels had to be killed because they were the ones who killed the boys’ friends and family. The boys were praised after every kill they made and where given drugs to cope will their anxiety. Ishmael’s first battle was when he was no longer an innocent, scared boy and became angry and vengeful. “I have never been so afraid to go anywhere in my life as I was that day…I Lay there with my gun pointed in front of me, unable to shoot.” Ishmael saw all of the death around him and thought of his friends and family. He became so angry that he began shooting. “Every time I stopped to change magazines and saw my two lifeless friends, I angrily pointed my gun into the swamp and killed more people”
For the next three years he was fighting for the government. Killing became an everyday occurrence and Ishmael was proud of all the rebels he murdered. He was eventually rescued by UNICEF and learned how he was manipulated into becoming a soldier. He had migraines and bad nightmares from all the horrors he witnessed. At this safe haven, he was rehabilitated and was reunited with his uncle whom he had never met. Ishmael uncles and cousins help him through the trauma. Yet he was still broken. He later became a child activist, speaking at the United Nations. At 18 years old Ishmael fled Sierra Leone after Kabala (a city in Serra Leone) was attacked by the rebels. He feared to become a soldier once again and made the decision to leave his family in search of refuge.
Ishmael used many rhetorical strategies to help convey his message. One rhetorical strategy he used was by writing his book about his personal experience. Opposed to writing a book with facts and statistics about child soldiers the reader is listening to his story. This way the reader can understand what Ishmael was feeling and thinking in this environment. The reader can understand how terrible and sick this topic is by the detail given by Ishmael.
Another rhetorical strategy that Ishmael used were two themes, Warfare and Manipulation. Ishmaels was manipulated by the commanding officers, telling him to kill to avenge his family. He was then praised for his efforts with drugs and movies. Pretty soon, Ishmael is a killing machine. He became such a good solider that he was recruited as a junior lieutenant and lead his own attacks. He had no remorse for anyone and only wanted to get back at the rebels for the pain they have caused him. The other theme is warfare, this theme explains how communities disintegrate as people struggle to survive and protect their families. Ordinary men and women have to learn to kill. When Ishmael finally escapes the conflict, it’s clear that nothing has been accomplished.
No side has ‘won.’ And countless lives — including our author’s — have been destroyed in the process.
Last but not least another rhetorical strategy used is tone. The entire book has a very dignified and serious tone. Every single village that’s raided and each person who dies gets the sincere description they deserve. The book also gives us glimpses of many terrifying moments. The scary part is that they are mixed in with average day to day things. The terrors of war become another part of daily life.
The strengths in the book were Ishmael’s detail to what it was like living in a war zone and how his book is told from a child’s perspective. Ishmael describes living in a war zone by communicating all the violence he experienced. For example, “My face, my hands, my shirt, and gun were covered with blood. I raised my gun and pulled the trigger, and I killed a man.” This allows the reader to understand what he was going through and they can put themselves in his shoes. People in many countries do not know what it’s like to be living in this environment. The reader is shown how cruel people can be to one another. Another strength the book had is how it is told from a child’s point of view as opposed to many books where the protagonist is an adult. For example, “That night, as I sat on the verandah listening to some of the boys discuss the volleyball game I had missed, I tried to think about my childhood days, but it was impossible, as I began getting flashbacks of the first time I slit a man’s throat.” This is a great example of how Ishmael’s normal childhood experiences clash with the violence and trauma in his life. This is an interesting thing about the book because people want to know what a child’s war experience would be like.
There were weaknesses in the book as well. Ishmael did not explain what had happened to him once he left Sierra Leone. He said he left the country and illegally went to Conakry. He said he didn’t know what he would do there once he arrived. The audience wants to know what his life is like after he escaped the war. The book also had a confusing ending. Ishmael ended the book with a story that one of the elders from his village told. It was abrupt and didn’t wrap up the book well. He was trying to use symbolism with this childhood story but in my opinion, it was confusing and left me wanting more.
The book is overall an amazing reference to know what it’s like living in a war zone. It explains how people who do bad things aren’t necessarily bad people. You learn a lot about how people can change under stressful circumstances. Ishmael explains his main message well. The reader may wonder if he or she would make the kind of decisions the children made. This book will make the audience think about his or her character.
I think the book was amazing. This book will show the average reader that their lives could always be worse and to be grateful for what they have. Ishmael’s story makes the reader think of all the things they take for granted. It also shows the inderance and strength people have. Ishmael experienced a lot of trauma and had no immediate family to help him through his pain. Yet he still learned from his challenges and became a better person. I have never experienced war and never lost family or friends in my life. I put myself in Ishmael’s shoes and I can’t imagine how I would feel or what I would do if I was in that situation. Thinking about losing my sister the way Ishmael lost his brother brings tears to my eyes. I always thought that people were born good, but their experiences and how they handled them was what made them a good or a bad person. I think Ishmael would agree to this thought. Ishmael taught me that just because people do bad things doesn’t mean they are bad people. When you go through so much pain happiness seems so far out of reach it can be hard to see things the same way. People can always choose who they want to be and choose if they want to change.