Long Way Gone

an infographic by Kaylee Trejo

Internal Characterization - Ishmael

Ishmael Beah is a young boy that got caught in the middle of the Sierra Leone civil war. He had been traveling with his friends for a while, but ended up losing all of them except for one - Kaloko. They had been staying in an abandoned village, constantly living in fear that the rebels would come back. Kaloko was too scared to leave, and the frustration Ishmael felt caused him to go on his own to try and find safety.

Setting

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Kamator

Kamator is a village in Sierra Leone where Ishmael and his friends stay for a few months when they were in need of shelter. It ends up being attacked by rebels.

Words to Know

Crapes

The word "crapes" refers to sneakers. Ishmael says that he and his friends, while attempting to look like rappers, "wore three pairs of socks that we pulled down and folded to make our crapes look puffy".

Cassava

"Cassava" is the root of a tropical tree used in food in tropical countries. While staying in Kamator, Ishmael and his friends had to farm cassava by digging holes in the ground around the plant.

Historical Connection: Child Soldiers Today

In A Long Way Gone, rebels capture Ishmael and his friends, along with other kids their age, in order to recruit the strongest ones for the army. They would force the chosen kids to go into battle and sometimes even kill their entire families. When this happens, Ishmael is only 12 years old, and while he manages to escape, other kids didn't.

Today, kids Ishmael's age are still being forced to serve as soldiers. For example, in northern India, the Peoples' Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), is abducting young children and taking them to remote villages to train them. There are an estimated amount of 500-3,000 child soldiers in the region. Those children are forced to live in harsh conditions and to learn how to fight and torture.

Conflicts

Man vs. Self

At the beginning of Chapter 5, Ishmael states that he and his friends are "so hungry, it hurt to drink water". They are starving, which drives them to do something that they would have never even thought of doing until now.

When the boys see a child enjoying two ears of corn, they lose control and chase after the child, attempting to steal his food.

Man vs. Nature

When Ishmael is on his own, he is searching for a place to sleep and hears grunts. He is faced with a herd of wild pigs running at him. Ishmael describes them like this: "...they were huge, all of them. If they stood up, they would all be taller than me. Each had forked teeth extending out of its mouth." The pigs spotted him and tried to attack him, and Ishmael climbs a tree to escape them. They continue to try and attack him, but give up after seeing they could not reach him up in the tree.