Study Guide: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah: Book Summary|
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FREE STUDY GUIDE: A LONG WAY GONE - ISHMAEL BEAH
The protagonist is Ishmael and he is central to understanding the horrors
of war in Sierra Leone, because he became a boy soldier.
The antagonists at first are the rebels who bring horror and death to
civilians for reasons Ishmael can never discern. Later, the antagonist
becomes Ishmael himself when he very nearly cannot find the strength within
himself to recover from begin a bloodthirsty soldier to a child once more.
The climax occurs when Ishmael realizes he will never escape war and
find peace until he leaves Sierra Leone. He finds a way to get to Guinea
and then to New York City and become a new person.
After a long and harrowing journey, Ishmael finds his way out of Sierra
Leone and into Guinea. From there, with the help of Laura Simms, he travels
to New York City, finishes high school, and graduates from College. He
becomes an advocate at the UN and other international organizations for
dealing with the solution to children forced to become soldiers.
SHORT SUMMARY (Synopsis)
This true story involves the life of Ishmael Beah who lives a fairly
happy life in Sierra Leone until civil war breaks out. Then, like other
civilians, he is forced to run for his life, becoming separated from his
family and later losing them to murder by the rebels. He later finds a
way to be rehabilitated and regain his childhood. He once again learns
how to love.
War Is Hell
The first and most important theme is War is Hell. Although this is
an overworked phrase, it fits this narrative perfectly. The horrors and
tragedy that Ishmael relates to the reader are almost unbelievable. The
atrocities committed against innocent civilians give new meaning to the
idea of war as well.
There is always Hope
The second theme is: There is always Hope. In spite of all the terrible
events in Ishmael’s life, he finds a way to overcome everything and find
love again and meaning to his existence again. Also, with the work he
begins at the UN, we can hope that other children will not be subjected
in the future to the tragedy he had to endure.
When Everything Else is Gone, There is Always Love
A final theme tells us when everything else disappears, there is always
love. Ishmael learns this the hard way. He has a kind of family unit with
the soldiers that actually carries over into the love and friendship between
him and Alhaji. Then, there is the love of Uncle Tommy and his family
and their willingness to make Ishmael a son and a brother. Finally, there
is the love of people like Esther and Laura who accept him unconditionally
and welcome him into their homes when he most needed help and love.
| |Ishmael Beah
The mood is mostly one of horror and fear throughout as Ishmael makes
his way through war. However, it becomes uplifting and hopeful when he
is successful in finding peace.
Ishmael Beah - BIOGRAPHY
Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone on November 23, 1980. He moved
to the United States in 1998 and finished his last two years of high school
at the United Nations International School in New York. He graduated from
Oberlin College in 2004 with a degree in Politics. He is a member of the
Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division Advisory Committee and has
spoken before the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Emerging
Threats and Opportunities (CETO) at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory,
and many other NGO panels on children affected by war. He has also spoken
before the United Nations on several occasions. His work has appeared
in Vespertine Press and LIT magazine. He lives in New York
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
A Long Way Gone was named one of the Top 10 Nonfiction books of 2007
by Time Magazine.
It was nominated for a Quill Award in the Best Debut Author category in
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