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A Long Way Gone

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Meghan Blanusa

on 2 June 2012

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Transcript of A Long Way Gone

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 A Long Way Gone The book focuses in on a group of children, Ishmael Beah, from the village of Mattru Long in Sierra Leone are exposed to a war by the RUF. The children lose their parents and travel amongst themselves through villages. They are either treated nicely or run out of town. Ishmael and his friends are caught by the RUF, some are chosen to fight while others are sentenced to death. The children manage to escape due to a distraction elsewhere. Unfortunately their group is split up and Ishmael ends up by himself. He finally meets up with other children from his village.The group ends up being caught by the "Army" and they are enlisted as child soldiers. Ishmael and others are chosen by their luitenant to leave with the UNICEF and are transported to Freetown to get rehabilitation. Ishmael's life begins to change drastically as he tries to overcome his past and move on. Ishmael Beah In A Long Way Gone, Ishmael holds a specific view of America and the people who live there due to his rap music. Once he visits New York City ,on his trip to the United Nations, his views changes as he experiences the actual America for the first time. America and the Americans Before Visiting America "My conception of New York City came form rap music. I envisioned it as a place where people shot each other on the street and got away with it; no one walked on the streets, rather people drove in their sports cars looking for nightclubs and for violence" (Beah 193). Because of the violence present in rap music from artists like Run DMC and LL Cool J, Ishmael's view of America became distorted. Through the rap music and his own experience with violence, he came to believe that America was similarly majorly concerned with violence. "I remember thinking about the strangeness of this country: it is very cold outside and extremely hot inside" (Beah 195). Being from Sierra Leone, snow was something new to Ishmael seeing as he never had the opportunity to witness it. This also accounts for why he arrived in America with summer-like clothing instead of winter clothes. He had never experienced weather this cold before. "Whenever I turned on the tap water, all I could think about was blood gushing out. I would stare at it until it looked like water before drinking or taking a shower." -Beah 145. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neal Hurston "Sometimes Janie would think of the old days in the big white house and the store and laugh to herself. What if Eatonville could see her now in her blue denim overalls and heavy shoes?" - Hurston, 134 Ishmael and Janie have something in common; they are both unable to forget their pasts. Ishmael will never be rid of the horrible memories of people dying right in front of him, or killing people himself. Janie will never be rid of the memories of Jody, and how she was changed so much while she was with him, how constricted she was. Though these two characters have very different pasts, the concept remains the same. "I was quiet for a bit, as I didn't know what to say and also didn't trust anyone at this point in my life. I had learned to survive and take care of myself." - Beah, 153. "The years took all the fight out of Janie's face. For awhile she thought it was gone from her soul. No matter what Jody did, she said nothing... plenty of life beneath the surface but it was kept beaten down by the wheels." - Hurston, 76. Ishmael and Janie have both been changed by the experiences that they have been through. Ishmael used to be a child who played with his friends and explored other cultures of music. He was changed into a hardened soldier without a childhood, forced to kill and take drugs on a daily basis. When recovering, he realizes that he is at a point in his life when he can trust no one due to these events. Janie has been worn down by Jody over the years. She did not even realize that there was still a fight inside of her. Jody changed her from a dreaming girl into a stone faced woman. Other people in this world drastically changed both of these characters. After Visiting America "We looked at each other in awe of how absolutely amazing and crowded the place was" (Beah 198). Once Ishmael had been in America for a few days, he realized that rather than stay off the streets, people crowded the streets in all parts of the city. His view of America changed as he learned that not everyone in America was scared. "I didn't feel cold, as the number of people, the glittering buildings, and the sounds of cars overwhelmed and intrigued me. I thought I was dreaming" (Beah 198). While Ishmael had seen many lights before, he had seen as many as he did in New York. Everything about the city amazed Ishmael because he wasn't use to it. America actually turned out to be wonderful instead of the scary, gang-oriented America Ishmael had envisioned. "You wouldn't understand, unless you had been at the front. I hardened myself to expect my own death and everyone else's, and think nothing of it" (O'Neill, 328). A Long Way Gone and Mourning Becomes Electra "You folks at home take death so solemnly! You would have soon learned at the front that it's only a joke! You don't understand, Vinnie. You have to learn to mock or go crazy, can't you see?" (O'Neill 346). "I didn't feel a thing for him, didn't think that much about what I was doing. I just waited for the corporal's order. The prisoner was simply another rebel who was responsible for the death of my family, as I had come to truly believe" (Beah 124). "The boys and the other soldiers who were the audience clapped as if I had just fulfilled one of life's greatest achievements. I was given the rank of junior lieutenant and Kanei was given junior sergeant. We celebrated that day's achievement with more drugs and more war movies" (Beah 125). In both novels, Ishmael and Orin are equally affected by the war. After both boys were pushed into the war and forced into accepting their new lives, their personalities changed. Both Ishmael and Orin learned to not care for others. The only life that mattered was their own. Everyone else became meaningless. War made Ismael and Orin hard and unsympathetic towards everyone. Even after the war had ended, both Orin and Ishmael remained affected. Dulce et Decorum Est & A Long Way Gone In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
(Owen, 15-16) " On the morning that we left for Mattru Jong, we loaded our backpacks with notebooks of lyrics... In those days we wore baggy jeans, and underneath them we had soccer shorts and sweatpants for dancing.." - Page 7

Ishmael uses a lot of details while writing this novel. Here, especially, I can see that he was trying to make it seem like any normal day of their life. He was describing what they were wearing to go to Mattru Jong, while a war is taking place somwhere nearby. The extra details show that when people leave their homes, they always expect to return. Here, however, these children never returned. Language From the Novel "Her child had been shot dead as she ran for her life. Luckily for her the bullet didn't go through the baby's body. When she stopped at where we stood, she sat on the ground and removed her child. It was a girl, and her eyes were still wide open, with an interrupted innocent smile on her face. The bullets could be seen sticking out just a little bit in the baby's body and she was swelling." - page 13

The author uses the details here to enhance the reader's image of this terrifying scene. This gives the reader something to think about even while not reading the book. The issues at hand seem to become more real than if students were just hearing them from a television or reading them from a text book. This is a real story, with horrific true events. It took several months before i began to relearn to sleep without the aid of medicine. But even when I was finally able to fall asleep, I would start awake less than an hour later. I would dream that a faceless gunman had tied me up and begun to slit my throat with the zigzag edge of his bayonet. (Beah 149). My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.
(Owen, 25-28) "What I have learned from my experiences is that revenge is not good. I joined the army to avenge the deaths of my family and to survive, but I've come to learn that if I am going to take revenge, in that process I will kill another person whose family will want revenge; then revenge and revenge will never come to an end..."(Beah 199) The poem Dulce et Decorum Est deals with the falsities of war. With the author being a discharged soldier, he authenticates the idea that war is not what people think. He portrays the actual gruesome and violent nature of war and calls out the notion that “it is sweet and right to die for one’s country”. What is interesting is that Ishmael compares the opinion of war. In his interview on “The Hour” he talks about the romantic idea of war shared by many Americans versus those of his people. At the end of the poem and of the novel they both come to the realization that war is not to be idealized. "Saying more might push them both to a place they couldn't get back from. He would keep the rest where it belonged; in that tobacco tin buried in his chest where a red heart used to be. Its lid rusted shut." -Beloved Memories When Paul D begins to share some of his memories with Sethe, both try to avoid their painful pasts, and Paul D refers to his "tobacco tin."Paul D refers to the tin a second time later when he has his regretful run in with Beloved. During this time he says that the tin begins to come open. All the memories that he had pushed away, were starting to resurface which made Paul D nervous. Ishmael Beah By: Paola Meghan Kim "If you go there, it will happen again, it will be there waiting for you. Even though it is all over and done with, its always going to be there waiting for you." -Beloved Steph Kayla Cameron Kim Recommendation A Long Way Gone and Beloved In Beloved, Sethe, Paul D, Denver and Beloved all seem to be unable to get over their past memories from slavery to move on for their future. The memories are a struggle for all of the characters and they must over come them in order to live. In A Long Way Gone, Ishmael speaks about the memories of his childhood and how they drive him to escape to freedom. "Memories I sometimes wish I could wash away, even though I am aware that they are an important part of what my life is; who I am now. I stayed awake all night, anxiously waiting for daylight, so that I could fully return to my new life, to rediscover the happiness I had known as a child, the joy that had stayed alive inside me even through times when being alive itself became a burden. These days I live in three words: my dreams, and the experience of my new life, which trigger memories from the past" (Beah, 19-20) . "I looked into the sky and saw how the thick clouds kept trying to cover the moon, yet it would reappear again and again to shine all night long. In some way my journey was like that of the moon-although I had even more thick clouds coming my way to make my spirit dull" (Beah, 19-20). "Over and over in our training he would say that same sentence: Visualize the enemy, the rebels who killed your parents, your family, and those who are responsible for everything that has happened to you" (Beah, 112). If I were to recommend A Long Way Gone to someone it would be anyone who was interested in the life and hardships of war and child soldiers. Anyone who is an advocate of the Kony 2012 project would enjoy this book because A Long Way Gone truly demonstrates the read life of a child soldier. This would also be a great book to read if you think war of any kind is glorious. The people who watch Rambo, play Halo or Call of Duty believe they understand war, but only on a Hollywood level where you come back to life after a battle. In reality, war is scary,chaotic, and traumatizing, which Beah wanted to get across. Overall though, this autobiography is appealing not only to those intrigued with war but to anyone who likes a little action in a book or anyone who wants a good read. Denver remembers back to what Sethe told her about the past and how it is always there and waiting for you. Sethe has difficulty talking to Denver about this because for so many years she has tried to forget about her past, but she realizes that is not possible. ???????????
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