Character Analysis: A Long Way Gone

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The use of children in the Sierra Leone Civil War was widespread, with up to 10,000 children taking part in the conflict and up to eighty percent of RUF forces between the ages of seven and fourteen. Ishmael is one of these children. In his memoir, A Long Way Gone, Lieutenant Jabati and his men exploit several techniques to transform these frightened children into ruthless killing machines. They do this through the use of drugs, pop culture, as well as character and emotional manipulation. Tactics like these create habits and addictions that are almost impossible to break.
First, drugs and alcohol were prevalent in the war and were used as a prerequisite before combat exercises. Beah is given white pills before his first raid, he was told they …show more content…

They are taught to funnel all their built up emotions against the rebels. The corporal tells them to, “Visualize the enemy, the rebels who killed your parents, your family, and those who are responsible for everything that has happened to you.” The corporal would say this over and over, and soon the kids were accustomed to taking out their hatred on the rebels. They wanted to kill. Beah and the other boys trusted their military leaders, lieutenant Jabati especially. They no longer had any sort of parental figure in their lives, and Jabati fills in this void. He recites Shakespeare with Ishmael for example, something his father used to do with him. He uses his influence to further distance them from their old selves, organizing competitions in which the person who kills their prisoner the fastest is the winner. This is a big step for some of the boy soldiers, as they have to execute someone while looking them in the eyes. When Beah won one of these contests, he was promoted to junior lieutenant. He writes that the combination of drugs made him fierce and killing had become as easy as drinking water (Beah, 2007). At this point Beah’s innocence is completely gone, he enjoys killing, and claims that being apart of something makes him feel

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