Long Way Gone Rehabilitation

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A Long Way Gone: War and Rehabilitation Following the life of Ishmael Beah in his autobiography, A Long Way Gone, readers experience how a young boy adjusted to drastic changes in lifestyles. The first- and perhaps more marked- change in lifestyle was when he became a child soldier in the Sierra Leone Army. The second was when he was taken away to be rehabilitated by UNICEF. Although there are several important components in both Ishmael’s life at war and his life during rehabilitation, it is his relationship with fear, how he deals with trauma, and his character in general which significantly share resemblances in each of the two mentioned lifestyles. While these changes might seem otherworldly when juxtaposed, there actually are many similarities…show more content…
Each circumstance was forced upon him, separating him from the routine of how he was living beforehand. The army ripped him away from his life of running away from violence, forcing him to face it head on. Here, his fear manifested with obvious signs, whether it was trembling upon holding a gun or going into a state of shock when thrusted into a battlefield. Ironically, the transition from escaping violence to becoming a part of the army was much simpler than the transition into rehabilitation. The author mentioned it only took two more battles in the first week of his first kill to be comfortable shooting a gun (120). However, while his initial attitude towards the army was more of a reluctant acceptance, Beah actively resisted rehabilitation. His fear with rehabilitation was less apparent, taking the form of aggression and hostility, yet it still resembled his fear going into the army. Beah was once again forced in an unfamiliar setting which acted against what he considered his state of normalcy and safety. The same confusion of what to do on the battlefield was echoed in what to do when faced with…show more content…
It may seem to be an understatement to say the child soldier underwent significant changes during each period. The war molded him into a hardened killer, and rehabilitation shaped him back into a functional member of society. However, what is astounding is that Beah came out of both experiences with traits of leadership. Granted, his use of those traits served two widely different purposes. As a soldier, Beah built up skill and experience with combat, allowing him to gain higher rankings and respect from those who fought with him. He cooperated well with his fellow soldiers, working with their plans and directing his own. Beah even remarked he felt better about being a soldier as a result of his successes (124). By the time he was put into rehabilitation, though he lost what he gained as a soldier, he later gained the proficiency of speaking about his experiences. Through his connections with others from rehabilitation, he climbed up so he could eventually speak on the war and raise awareness about Sierra Leone’s child soldiers (198). Being a soldier and being a speaker as a survivor showcased Beah’s incredible
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