Critical Reflection On A Long Way Gone By Ishmael Beah

“A Long Way Gone”, a book about Ishmael, a boy from Sierra Leone, is the subject of this story. Ishmael, who was born 1980, lived with his two brothers, his mother, and father in the village. The Sierra Leone Civil War began in 1991. Beah, who was born in Mogbwemo – a town located in Southern Province Sierra Leone – fled when rebels invaded his hometown. He wandered for months in the south with other young boys, away from his family. He was forced into becoming a soldier at age 14. Beah’s accounts claim that he battled for nearly three long years before UNICEF rescued him. The author tries to tell the audience that wars and manipulations can turn innocence to evil.

Ishmael’s family lived in the village where he grew up. His brother Junior taught Ishmael hip-hop at the age of ten. The two then formed a dance troupe with Talloi Khalilou. He spent all his days at school and performing with his dance troupe in talent shows. Ishmael became confused as refugees began to enter his village. He believed the stories they told were exaggerated. All he knew about wars was from movies and books like Rambo: First Blood. “My ten-year-old imagination was not able to comprehend what had robbed the refugees of their happiness.”

Ishmael’s first war experience was at the age of 12. He was 12 years old when he first experienced war. When they were on their way to a locality to perform at an event, the rebels attacked. No one could help the group of boys because they didn’t have a home or anyone to turn to. Ishmael tried to flee from village-to-village for the next 2 years. Only a few weeks before he had left for the talent competition, Junior was separated after an assault. He had many close calls and was attacked several times. The rebels and the government were passing through villages and roads that were littered with dead bodies. Innocents have been killed without reason before him many times. He was numb and experienced nightmares. He was always tired and scared. The government eventually hired him as a soldier. Some of the soldiers were only seven years old. The lieutenant told them that they must kill the rebels as they killed their family and friends. They were given drugs and praised for every kill. Ishmael faced his first battle after he had become angry and vengeful. Ishmael recalled that he had never been more afraid in his life. “I laid with my gun in the air, unable even to shoot.” Ishmael viewed all of the dead bodies around him. He began to shoot because he was angry. “Each time I changed magazines and saw two of my friends dead, I pointed my gun in anger into the swamp killing more people.”

In the three years that followed, he fought for his government. Ishmael felt proud to have killed so many rebels. UNICEF was able to rescue him. They also taught him the tricks used to manipulate him into becoming an army soldier. The horrors that he had witnessed caused him to have migraines and nightmares. At the safe haven where he found rehabilitation, he met his unknowing uncle. Ishmael cousins and uncles help him to overcome the trauma. Still, he remained broken. He was a child activist and spoke to the United Nations. Ishmael fled Sierra Leone aged 18 after the rebels attacked Kabala. Ishmael feared returning to the army and so decided to leave home to find refuge.

Ishmael’s message was effectively communicated by Ishmael using many rhetorical devices. In order to use rhetorical strategies, he wrote his book based on his personal experiences. In contrast to reading about statistics and facts, the reader hears his story. The reader will be able to understand Ishmael’s feelings and thoughts in that environment. Ishmael’s detailed description will help you to understand the severity of this situation.

Ishmael resorted to two other rhetorical themes in his speech: Warfare & Manipulation. Ishmaels, the commanding officer told him that he should kill to avenge family. Then he was praised with movies and drugs for his efforts. Ishmael becomes a killer machine pretty quickly. He became a great soldier and was promoted to junior lieutenant. He was not remorseful and wanted only to punish the rebels. The other theme, warfare, explains why communities break apart as people try to protect and survive their families. The average man and woman must learn how to kill. It’s obvious that when Ishmael escapes from the conflict it hasn’t been achieved.

The author, among others, has lost countless lives in the process.

Another rhetorical tactic is the tone. The book’s tone is very serious and dignified. The book describes each village and person that is killed in the most sincere way possible. It also shows many horrifying moments. The scariest part is how they’re mixed with everyday life. The horrors that war brings into our daily lives.

Ishmael describes what it’s like to live in a warzone in great detail. His book is also told from the perspective of a child. Ishmael’s description of his life in a violent war zone is a powerful way to describe it. The blood was on my face, my hands and my gun. The reader can then put himself in the shoes of the man who was killed by raising his gun and pulling the trigger. Many people don’t understand the hardships of living in such a harsh environment. The reader learns about the cruelty of people towards one another. The book is also strong because it’s told from the child’s perspective, unlike many other books that have an adult protagonist. Ishmael is shown to have a normal childhood that clashes with his traumas and violent experiences. It’s interesting that people are interested in what a child would experience during war.

The book also had its flaws. Ishmael refused to tell us what happened to his after he fled Sierra Leone. He said that he had illegally fled the country. He claimed he had no idea what he would be doing in Conakry. Audiences want to know about his life once he has escaped war. A confusing ending was also part of the book. Ishmael concluded the book by telling a tale that an elder from his village had told. It was a bit abrupt and did little to wrap up this book. It was confusing to me and I wanted more.

It’s a wonderful book to use as a reference on what it is like to live in a conflict zone. It shows that not all bad people are bad. You will learn how people can adapt to stressful situations. Ishmael makes his point very clearly. Readers may wonder whether they would take the same decisions that the children took. This book makes the audience reflect on their character.

The book is amazing. This book is a great way to show readers that they can always live worse lives and be grateful for the things they do have. Ishmael’s book makes you realize how much you take for given. The story also shows how people can be resilient and strong. Ishmael went through a lot and did not have a family who was close to him. He still learned and grew from his experiences. I’ve never been in a war, nor have I lost a family member or friend. I imagine Ishmael in my shoes. I cannot imagine what I would think or do in such a situation. I cry when I imagine Ishmael’s brother losing his sister. I’ve always thought that while people are born with good qualities, it is how they deal with those experiences which determines whether or not they become a good individual. Ishmael probably agrees with this idea. Ishmael has taught me that bad acts don’t make people bad. After a lot of pain, happiness can seem so far away. The people can choose what they want and change if necessary.


  • stanleybyrne

    Stanley Byrne is a 26-year-old education blogger and teacher. He has degrees in education and political science from the University of Notre Dame and has worked in various teaching and research positions since he graduated in 2014. He is the author of a number of educational blog posts and has written for Huffington Post, The Guardian, and Salon.