A Long Way Gone

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by Danielle250
Last updated 5 years ago

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A Long Way Gone

Deprived of hope that his family will ever be whole again, Beah is recruited into the government military structure. He is taken to a government camp and treated well at first; however, it becomes clear that the government is facing too strong an opposition and must now recruit boys into its army. As part of their conditioning, the boys are given drugs, fed a steady diet of American action films, and rewarded for finding the most efficient way to kill an enemyFor nearly three years, Beah becomes the very thing that appalled him before: a bloodthirsty, heartless killer. He and his unit commit the same atrocities that the RUF had perpetrated upon Beah's own village and neighboring towns.

Esther is the nurse at the UNICEF compound following Beahs escape from the life as a child soldier. She attempts to win Beah's trust by patiently showing an interest in him without pushing him. She even uses reverse psychology by challenging Beah to win her trust before she will talk with him at length. She learns of Beah's interests through the school questionnaires and uses this knowledge to break down Beah's emotional barriers. She considers Beah a brother and consoles him in his most dismal emotional troubles.

The narrator and author of the book. Beah resorts to survivalist tactics to stay alive; he steals when he needs to, roams in packs of boys his own age who have been orphaned, and he spends long stretches of time alone in the forest. At 13, he is forced to become a soldier for the government's army and is ordered to kill rebels.

Nature In nature, Beah retains his innocence. In his memoir, nature also echoes or foreshadows coming evil. Left alone in Mattru Jong after most of the villagers fled to the forest, Beah notes that the moon does not appear in the sky that night

A Long Way Gone




Loss of Innocence The violence and terror is rendered through the eyes of a child and Beah writes plainly and without judgment about his experiences. Though the attacks on his village and subsequent villages he seeks haven in sever Beah from normal childhood activities, he at first maintains his innocence. He holds onto childhood memories and is able to fleetingly rekindle his sense of wonder. Although the violent pursuit of rebels across Sierra Leone traumatized Beah, it is not until he is turned into a killer that he truly loses his innocence.


“We must strive to be like the moon.”pg. 16 “My squad is my family, my gun is my provider, and protector, and my rule is to kill or be killed.” pg. 116“I feel as if there is nothing left for me to be alive for. I have no family, it is just me. No one will be able to tell me stories about my childhood.” pg. 167


Ishmael Beah

Recruitment and life as a child soldierThe boys then settle into another village protected by the army. After many uneventful days, the lieutenant in charge of the troops in the village announced that the RUF was beginning to assault the village. The lieutenant said that in order for the people to survive, they must contribute to the war effort by enlisting in the army; escape was not an option. Ishmael becomes a junior lieutenant for his skill in executing prisoners of war and is put in charge of a small group of other child soldiers. As a child soldier Ishmael is exposed to extreme violence and drug usage.

Rescue and rehabilitationA group of men wearing UNICEF shirts round up several boys and takes them to a shelter in Sierra Leone's capital, where they are to be rehabilitated. However, the children cause much trouble for the volunteer staffers at the facility, with Ishmael experiencing symptoms of drug withdrawal as well as troubling memories of his time as a child soldier. Despite the violence, one of the staffers, Nurse Esther, becomes interested in Ishmael, learning about his childhood love of rap music and when she takes Ishmael and his friend to the city. It is through this connection and his numerous counseling experiences with Esther that Ishmael eventually turns away from his violent self and starts to heal from his mental wounds.


The Diamond TradeKnown as blood diamonds or conflict diamonds, these Diamonds are mined and exported illegally from certain parts of Africa by corrupt groups bent on funding bloody rebel conflicts and civil wars.

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