A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

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The story, A Long Way Gone revolves around Ishmael Beah’s life as a soldier for Sierra Leone Armed Services during the civil war. Beah joined the forces after he learnt the killing of his family members by rebels. With time, Beah turns to be a killing machine, but was later rescued by UNICEF and taken to New York. The manner in which Beah survives and transforms leaves the reader in worry and sympathy.

Some of the decisions made by Beah in the story are commendable while others are worth condemnation. Personally, I would have felt similar to whatever Beah felt under many situations that he found himself in. However, we would differ in the manner in which I could react. It was extremely painful for Beah upon realizing that all his family members were wiped by the rebels. According to him, this was the moment when chaos knocked the door of his life. He is only left with one option; to rescue himself from the brutality of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). He only need to survive and nothing more than that. According to Beah (36) “Everyone just ran to save his or her life.” Putting myself in the shoes of Beah, I would have experienced the same sort of pain. Losing all your family members is the worst thing that can happen to someone. Every second to him seemed to be a day; the wrath of RUF caused a permanent scar in Beah’s life. To me, I would also never forget people who happened to kill my family members in the name of civil war. Those bad memories would always be running in my mind day and night.  

Although the decision to join the military became the bases of Beah’s survival and transformation, I could have not reacted that way. The key reason as to why Beah joined the government military was revenge. However, it seemed secure for Beah to be in the military, he risked his life, too. Many government militaries were killed in the war front, but Beah survived all the fights he attended. After training, the story describes Beah as someone who had turned to be a bloodthirsty and heartless killer. While under training, Beah and other young boys are conditioned by being given drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. All these happened to Beah as a result of planning to revenge. To me, it was not Beah’s effort to survive during the war against RUF. It was God’s favor. If some of his unit soldiers died in the war shows that there was also a chance of Beah facing the same. In addition, the intervention by the UNICEF was a God driven mission to save him from the wrath of RUF. I personally don’t embrace revenge; therefore, I could have taken another course of action other than joining the government military only to be a killer. I would have crossed the border and sought refuge as wait until the civil war ends in Sierra Leone.

When Beah realized that his family members had been killed by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the spirit of revenge occupied him. As a result, he joins the Sierra Leone Military to train and later be a killer. The circumstances that Beah was subjected to since then were harsh and painful. He ended up making some decisions that were not appropriate for him. For example, being bloodthirsty heartless killer although it was the bases of his transformation and survival.

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Work cited

Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. Print.

July 19, 2022




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