A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of A Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah is a memoir of
his experiences as a soldier during the civil war in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is a country
in West Africa that had a civil war that lasted from 1991 till 2002. The war started when
Revolutionary United Front (RUF) attempted to overthrow the Joseph momoh
government. The war resulted in over 50,000 deaths. During the civil war, children as
young as seven years old were recruited to serve in the army but they weren't really
recruited at all, they were threatened to join or they would be killed or kidnapped.
Ishmael was threatened and forced to join the army of Sierra Leone at the age of
twelve. By that time he was a killing machine. Ishmael describes his experiences of …show more content…
During his time in
the army Ishmael becomes addicted to drugs (marijuana, cocaine and other pills). One
day a UNICEF truck comes to his normal life, but Ishmael and many others have
withdrawals from drugs. During his rehabilitation he is reminded of his love for rap
music. With help of rap and a nurse named Esther, Ishmael is be fully rehabilitated. He
then goes to live with his Uncle Tommy in Sierra Leone. Ishmael is chosen to meet and
speak with the UN about his experiences as a child in the war. While he’s there he meets
Laura Simms, a good role model for him. After he returns to Sierra Leone he escapes and
catches a flight to America, where he is adopted and lives with Laura.
An important theme throughout the book is Survival. Ishmael is forced to survive
on his own after he loses his family and friends. Ishmael survives his training in the army.
Then he is forced to fight on the front lines of battles. During his rehabilitation, Ishmael
fights his addiction to drugs, and in the end he wins. Ishmael survives all of these
obstacles, flees to America and lives happily ever after.
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Later on in the memoir, they named Ishmael the “killing machine” because he was so into violence and killing. The bad group he was with brainwashed him about his family and loved ones. He became addicted to cocaine, marijuana and brown brown which give him courage to fight and kill people without knowing it is wrong. Ishmael stayed with this bad group for a while; but later on his lieutenant gives Ishmael to the UNICEF.
A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah is the painfully true biography of Ishmael, his elder brother Junior, their friends and their journey to out run a war that is occurring in their hometown, Sierra Leone. The majority of the story takes place in Sierra Leon in between the years of 1993 and 1998. Ishmael’s journey begins the January of 1993 when he is the age of twelve. Individuals have begun to revolt which takes everything a turn for the worse. The rebels have struck the country with fear and caused complete chaos by killing families and destroying what they once called home.
Ishmael Beah had grown up in Mogbwemo, Sierra Leone, a tight knit community where he was always surrounded by people who cared about him. Sierra Leone was always pleasant place to live until the chaos of the Civil War attacked the village. “The first time that [Ishmael] was touched by the war [he] was twelve… [He] left home with Junior, [his] older brother, and [their] friend Talloi… to go to the town of Mattru Jong to participate in [their] friends’ talent show” (Beah, 6). The war hit Mogbwemo very unexpectedly, “Since [Ishmael and his friends] intended to return the next day, [they] didn’t say goodbye or tell anyone where [they] were going.
He then moves to Mattru Jong to live with his father. The war hits when he is on a trip with his friends and his brother to see his grandmother. He then has to run away from the war leaving his family behind him. ishmael continues running from the war for most of his childhood and eventually losses his brother and the rest of his family in the process.
Ishmael became a victim of the war the moment he became a boy soldier. He was only a young teen at the time, where substances took over his life, as he states, “In the daytime, instead of playing soccer in the village square,
The first time Ishmael was ever touched by war was at age 12. At 13, he was picked by the Government Army and brought to a vicious and brutal world. He woke up everyday with fear of dying. He tried his best to look the toughest and satisfy the rebels by fulfilling their demands. Ishmael took a dose of drugs daily to keep him energized and to keep him awake.
Ishmael has accept the fact that the war has ruined his enjoyment of meeting new people. Because of him going into villages and being chased out because they believed he was a rebel, Or having to go through other villages because he knew nobody there and he knew what was coming to their village and he did not want to stay had ruined the experience for him until later on in his life. Ishmael's experiences force him to deny his emotional side in order to survive. His flight from RUF attacks on the various villages in Sierra Leone requires him to let go of attachments to family and friends. Although he holds out hope to see his family, he has no choice but to close off himself to the world.
Ishmael has a flashback of his life in the war. In his dream he encounters a body wrapped in white bed sheets, and as he unwraps it he realizes it is his own face he is looking at. He then awakens, sweating and on the ground. He says, “I was afraid to fall asleep, but staying awake also brought back painful memories” (Beah 19). Even being in a different country cannot take away the hell that Ishmael has been through.
Ishmael undergoes a massive shift in character as he moves from childhood innocence to a hardened murderer. This traumatizing event creates a huge impact on Ishmael’s life; it is Ishmael’s first experience as a child soldier and his first act of violence. This later induces more bloodshed, and Beah is soon “killing everybody” as if it were an everyday
Another event that was probably his final turn before deciding to become a violent child soldier. In chapter 11, Ishmael has just lost his family and blames Gasemu and tries to kill him, “walked behind Gasemu and locked his neck under my arm. I squeezed him as hard as I could” (Beah 96). this quote demonstrates how Ishmael is willing to kill now for revenge as the quote did not show any hesitation from Ishmael. As shown in the article Child soldiers battle traumas in Congo rehab, it reads, “the children, they go back to their villages and they tell other children carrying a gun is not the way” (Nima).
People should read it because not only is it informative but relatable in some aspects. The theme of family and love universal, anyone can relate to it. Everybody has somebody that they continue to fight for, someone who is their everything and they’ll do anything for because that’s how much they love them. Ishmael’s story explores that, how his family kept him going. His story also informs those who are less knowledgeable in the history of Sierra Leone.
Memories “Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose”(Arnold). In the book a long way gone a boy named Ishmael beah tells his story. In this novel Ishmael’s village is eventually raided and he becomes on his own. Through being on his own he thinks of the past and memories of a better life. These memories that he thinks of can hinder him and help him along the way through his journey.
Later, UNICEF came and decided to take Ishmael out of the war and put him in a rehabilitation center. In this part of the novel, the reader can see how his desire for killing has controlled him completely. By fighting and killing rebel members in the rehabilitation center and beating up the guards to force them into doing what the children wants to do, the reader can see that the war has changed their ways of life and thoughts. The army was able to change Ishmael 's desires and from that, he became a deadly
“My squad is my family, my gun is my provider and protector and my rule is to kill or be killed. ”(Ishmael Beah)”A long way gone”was written by Ishmael Beah and published in 2007. Ishmael Beah was very happy kid he was really close to his family but they were seperated when the war happened with the rebels, later on he was caught by the rebels but he was able to escape, the rebels killed all his family so he was recruited by the army, they gave him drugs so he wouldn’t feel anything he had no emotions. The three most important scenes in this story include when Ishmael was alone in the jungle, when Ishmael was in the army,and when Ishmael was NYC.