A Long Way Gone- Ishmael Beah

By: Janaya Pederson hour 3

A story about a young boy growing up amidst civil war in Sierra Leone. Ishmael learns to cope and survive atrocities occurring around him by using his wit, common sense, and innocence.
Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone

Loss of Innocence

The theme of the story is loss of innocence and the aftermath of it. The video above is a perfect illustration of what Ishmael and countless other children in Sierra Leone have had to go through. Recruiting young children and making them kill hungry machines doesn't only ruin their childhood, it ruins their whole life. It changes them. Throughout the novel, the reader can blatantly see the changes that occur in the mind of a child soldier.
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Strength is an important word in the novel because strength found everywhere in the book. Whether it be mental strength or physical strength. Ishmael struggles with finding and maintaining his strength.

Innocence is an important word in the novel because Ishmael's innocence is basically ripped from him and he struggles to find it and make peace with it.

Reflection is an important word from the novel because Ishmael rarely has time to reflect upon his actions until it's too late. Ishmael learns to reflect on his past to make good decisions in his present.

Control is an important word from the novel because of how uncontrolled Ishmael's situation is. Ishmael learns how to take control of not only his thoughts but his actions as well.

Hunger is an important word from the novel because it describes not only Ishmael's hunger for food and drink but his hunger to survive.

"These days I live in three worlds: my dreams and the experiences of my new life, which trigger memories from the past." -Ishmael Beah pg (20)

This quote by Ishmael Beah really explains the struggle that he has had and still has to go through in his life. The quote really speaks to me because I think that everybody has their own three worlds that they're living.

"When I was a child, my grandmother told me that the sky speaks to those who look and listen to it. She said, 'In the sky there are always answers and explanations for everything: every pain, every suffering, joy, and confusion.' That night I wanted the sky to talk to me." -Ishmael Beah pg (166)

This quote is one of my favorites because the sky has so many mysteries for Ishmael. Ishmael's commitment to his family and his passion to keep what little memories he has of them is inspirational.

"When I was very little, my father used to say, 'If you are alive, there is hope for a better day and something good to happen. If there is nothing good left in the destiny of a person, he or she will die.'" -Ishmael Beah pg (54)

This quote speaks to me on a personal basis. This quote signifies that if a person gives up hope and lays in despair, then they will die. On the other hand, if a person strives to live and make an impact on their destiny, then they will see better days.
In CBS's interview with Ishmael Beah, Ishmael gave light to the situation with child soldiers in Africa. Ishmael explained how brutal it was being a child soldier, and his hopes for the future of Africa. Ishmael explains that writing his book and sharing his story has given him peace and he hopes that people will learn from his experiences and will have a further understanding of the horrible things that occurred and are still occurring in his home country.
tribute to soldiers (far from home+lyrics in description)

Far From Home- Five Finger Death Punch

Although there is no official music video for the song I chose, there are several videos made by fans that portray a deep understanding of the meaning of the song. The video I did choose happened to be a tribute to soldiers across the world. The song (for me) portrays images of people who are struggling to be close with someone but who happen to have obstacles standing in their way. I've never really liked metal music but this song really makes me feel things when I listen to it.


"Most Heartwarming Soldier and Dog Reunions." DogVacay Official Blog. DogVacay, n.d. Web.

"Lane County Area Soldiers Reunite With Families." Flickr. Yahoo!, n.d. Web.

Five Finger Death Punch. "Tribute to Soldiers (far from Home+lyrics in Description)." YouTube. YouTube, 18 July 2011. Web.

Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. Print.

"Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone." YouTube. YouTube, 25 Nov. 2008. Web.