Ishmael's Journey

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The Effects of the Refugee Cycle
“A young man, now safely settled in Canada, once told me that he didn 't mind being called a refugee because it described a situation that was forced on him; it didn 't define who he was” (Goodwin, 2011). This comes from a discussion between Debi Goodwin and a former refugee about the current refugee crisis in the Middle East. This observation is also seen in the novel What Is the What, by Dave Eggers, and A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah. The displacement occurring in corrupt societies within What Is the What and A Long Way Gone displays contrasting religious and political views, which leads to civil war. The violence caused by rebel, militia, and government organizations in certain African countries leads …show more content…

The novel A Long Way Gone starts two years before the civil war begins. The main character, Ishmael Beah narrates his journey of survival and transformation. The story begins with the happy childhood of Ishmael in a village in Sierra Leone. Once the war between the Sierra Leone Armed Services and the Revolutionary United Front begins, the atmosphere changes drastically. There were multiple villages that already been attacked and destroyed throughout Sierra Leone. This was only the beginning of Ishmael’s journey as he witnessed mass civilian displacement and bloodshed. Comparison and contrast of the war and Ishmael’s idea of war before his own village had been victimized compared to his shock and confusion when having to deal with the reality of the civil war. Despite feeling confused after being exposed to war initially, “things changed rapidly...We had yet to learn these things and implement survival tactics” (Beah, 29). It’s quite clear that Ishmael is shocked and fearful. He discusses the lack of experience of survival tactics, which he still has yet to learn. As he describes the flood of refugees entering his village and notices that most were quite traumatized and mentally damaged. However, he had never experienced anything like this, but he simply felt as if he didn 't have the right mindset to even imagine the horrors of war. The message being portrayed by Ishmael is the rapid transition from joy to terror. In a matter of seconds, the lives of thousands of citizens were ruined as a result of the civil war breaking out. The child that Ishmael was before the breakout of the war greatly contrasts the soldier that the war molded him into which shows how much such of an effect such an event can have on someone

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