A Long Way Gone Characters
The chief character of the book, Ishmael Beah, is the character that changes the most in the account – ‘A long way gone – memoirs of a boy soldier’. He is a round character that changes with time over a period of several decades adorning different shades of psychology, temperament, mindsets beliefs and personality.
Like most militants, he too was born into a normal happy family until the destructive forces of militancy and rebellion sweep him into their institutions making him a killer and forever changing his years of youth. Ishmael Beah was born to a happy couple in the country of Sierra Leone. He was the middle sibling in a group of three brothers. His eldest brother Junior Beah and his younger brother were dear to him. Sierra Leone was at war when Ishmael Beah was in his early teens. Barely into his teens and separated from his family, he tries to escape the offensive launched by Revolutionary United Front.
On his way out into the unknown war-torn territories of Sierra Leone, he gets intercepted by the army and is forced to join the Sierra Leone Armed Forces. (Beah 2012) This marks the first tryst with reality and a threshold that would mark a long journey from innocence to a profession of devilish bloodthirst. During his tenure in the army, he gets brainwashed into believing in bombs and guns, and an infinite hatred for the rebels who destroyed their village. He sheds off all emotions and learns to be as cold as a stone. This is the time when he turns away from the world, forgetting his childhood, his family and his friends. His friend Saidu dies of infection after eating a crow, several of his friends in the army fall prey to a gun battle, mine blasts, missile strikes, and bomb explosion. He remains unfazed by all this, having developed a face of steel and a heart of stone, emotionless, devoid of expression, and qualities of repentance, remorse, guilt and even fear. He starts living life as if tomorrow were his last day. It is only when he turns into a killing machine, brainwashed into a profession of relentless killing and lured into a world of hatred and misanthropy that he believes his innocence is truly lost.
Later on, he is extracted by UNICEF from the battlegrounds along with a few other friends of Ishmael and sent to Benin Home. Here he connects to his emotions once again. He returns to his innocence, confesses his love to Esther (the nurse and soft-hearted benefactor) and takes strides in becoming a well-balanced individual once again. Ishmael gets the love if Uncle Tommy and his family, have brothers and sisters and friends once again. He completes a full circle by speaking as a guest speaker at a forum for international peace by the UN and finally coming back to the US after a brief visit to his home town in Freetown.
Describe one major external conflict and one major internal conflict found in this book. Were the conflicts resolved or left unresolved?
One major external conflict was the war between Revolutionary United Front and Sierra Leone Armed Forces that lead to numerous atrocities, killings and widespread destruction in villages across Sierra Leone. One internal conflict found in this book was that within Ishmael’s mind. He resisted becoming emotionally weak so that he could continue living in an environment where guns fired, missiles flew, bombs exploded and people killed like poultry. His internal conflict was resolved during his army life in the Sierra Leone Armed Forces where he severed ties with the world and transformed himself into a closed, revengeful person focused on saving his life and killing the intruders who destroyed his village.
Works Cited Beah, Ishmael. “A long way gone”. 21 Nov. 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2012. http://www.alongwaygone.com/reviews.html