A Long Way Gone Essay

A topic that is shown throughout A Long Way Gone is the desire to escape the war. Ishmael Beah had the want, the need, and the desire to escape the war that was happening in Sierra Leone. He had to escape those who turned on the country and became rebels. Running away became part of his life for many years until he join the soldiers. There he would fight for his country to escape from the cruelty the rebels were bringing to Sierra Leone. Ishmael was a very brave child to be constantly escaping and running away from guys who were setting villages on fire and carried AK47s and G3s with them.

After being put into a rehabilitation center he had to escape those fears and awful thought from the war. He needed to make those thoughts go away so he could hopefully return to a semi-normal life. He wanted to leave the center at first because he didn’t know why he was put there, so he would go to the city of Freetown. After his rehabilitation time he lived with his uncle and most things fell nicely into place. The rebels came to town and his past soldier friends join them. He had to leave Freetown so that he wasn’t forced to serve or be killed by past friends.

He left Sierra Leone to live in New York City with Laura. “I had to leave, because I was afraid that if I stayed in Freetown any longer, I was going to end up being a soldier again or my former army friends would kill me if I refused” (Beah 209). It must have been very to be running away from such bad people. He is always worried for his life and little to no hope for food and survival. In the book A Long Way Gone there is a quote that shows how a lieutenant gets Ishmael to join the war. He (The lieutenant) paused slowly and continued: “Some of you are here because they have killed your parents or families, others because this is a safe place to be. Well, it is not that safe anymore. That is why we need strong men and boys to help us fight these guys, so that we can keep this village safe. If you do not want to fight to help, that is fine. But you will not have rations and will not stay in this village. You are free to leave, because we only want people here who can help cook, prepare ammunition, and fight” (Beah 106).

This quote is very important to the story because this is what was first told to Ishmael to make him join the war. This simple but awfully strong speech was to get men, women, boys, and girls to join the effort in controlling and getting rid of the rebels. This quote allowed me to really get involved with what was happening then and how they were treated while the war was going on. To be almost forced into the army must be a really hard thing to do and understand as a child. It was also very different for the women and girls because they only had to prepare food for the soldiers.

While the men and boys would have to learn to fight and be able to kill people effectively. The men and boys not only had to worry about their lives but also protecting the women and girls back at the village. The central conflict of A Long Way Gone is the war that is happening in Sierra Leone, and how it affects the people living there. The war is what the book is focused around and it shows how a young boy is stuck in the middle of it. The first thing that happens to introduce you to the war is when 3 boys, Ishmael, Junior, and Talloi went to Mattru Jong.

There they heard their home town Mogbwemo was attacked by rebels. The boys then started their journey of running away from rebels to find safe places. As him and another group of boys reach a safe town they were forced into the government army. “He (The lieutenant) paused slowly and continued: “Some of you are here because they have killed your parents or families, others because this is a safe place to be. Well, it is not that safe anymore. That is why we need strong men and boys to help us fight these guys, so that we can keep this village safe” (Beah 106).

After fighting the horrible war for a couple years Ishmael was sent to a rehabilitation camp for kids his age. After being in the camp for several months he was finally sent to live with his uncle in Freetown. Ishmael thought he was finally away from the war and could have a semi normal life. One morning he woke up with the ringing of guns shooting. He stayed at the house along with his family but knew he would have to leave. The conflict was never resolved in Ishmael’s story but was avoided by him. He left Sierra Leone to live with Laura in New York City.

Ishmael’s feelings in A Long Way Gone can be compared to Lord of the Flies based on the ways the two boys get angry. Through reading both of these books it can be recognized that Ishmael and Jack have some things in common. Both Ishmael and Jack have triggers that make them become angry. “This from Piggy, and the wails of agreement from the hunters, drove Jack to violence. The bolting look came into his eyes. He took a step and able at last to hit someone, stuck his fist into Piggy’s stomach. ” (Golding 71) That shows how Jack had a trigger for violence which led to a fight.

The fight between Jack and Piggy would not be nearly as bad as the fight between Ishmael and the rebels. The trigger for Ishmael didn’t lead to physical fighting it led to something worse, death. The lieutenant of Ishmael would remind him of who he was fighting and why. The lieutenant would remind him that the rebels killed his family and that they were also the ones to shoot his foot. “These are the men responsible for the bullet holes in your foot. It’s time to make sure they never shoot at you or your comrades” (Beah 159).

Ishmael would be told these things and become angry at the soldiers whom he was fighting. The lieutenant would say these things to get the boys fired up and ready to kill those who hurt and killed their families. How would the lieutenant fire himself up before a battle? Maybe his family was almost killed which made him angry enough to also kill the rebels. A Long Way Gone is based in Sierra Leone in the 1992 – 1998 which will impact how the characters act and think throughout the book. While Ishmael lives in Mogbwemo the novel visits many villages and towns in Sierra Leone.

The main towns or villages in the novel are Mogbwemo, Mattru Jong, Yele, and Freetown. People from the villages act differently compared to people in towns or cities such as Freetown. It is a known social expectation for anyone younger than an elder to give great respects to them. Females are usually expected to cook for their husbands and children. Sierra Leone had many different tribes and from those tribes came many different languages, for example Krio. “I was confusedly looking for a bus to the capital when I bumped into a passerby. Watch wussai you dae go,” the passerby grumbled in Krio. “Me na sorry, sir’ (Beah 214). It was also shown in the novel how children were named by an imam. The women would make special meals and after the imam announces the child’s name everyone would eat. Elders would eat first followed by the men, and then boys, all before women or girls would eat. “He rubbed some of the water from the calabash on my forehand and recited more prayers, followed by the proclamation of my name. “Ishmael he shall be called,” he said, and everyone clapped” (Beah 76).

These all give different reasons for the way Ishmael and the other characters would act, think, or make choices. This is why the group of boys were very respectful to the elder man they met. Also how they would beg the high ranked officials in villages to let them live in different languages. The boys would fight for their country because of the past knowledge of the RUF attacking villages near them. It may be hard for women in the villages because they have to take care of all the men before themselves. It would be a hard adjustment to have to make food for them and care for them and let them eat before me.