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.
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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 […]