Study Guide: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah: Book Summary|
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PLOT SYNOPSIS / ANALYSIS: A LONG WAY GONE - ISHMAEL BEAH
The boys are unable to walk with more than a hobble so they spend their time teasing each other and talking about subjects they can bear to think about. Among the boys are: Musa, Kanei, Alhaji, Jumah, Saidu, Moriba, and Ishmael. Ishmael knew Alhaji, Kanei, and Musa from Mogbweno. In spite of knowing each other, they never talk about their time in that little village. Those thoughts are more painful than their feet ever could be. The pain began to subside around the fourth night of their stay there and they remain in the hut for a week. Their host continues to bring them ointment, food, and water, but like the old man they had met before, he will never give his name. They do discover that he is from the Sherba tribe and that he had heard about the war, but canít believe that people can do the things the boys relate. Later, he takes them to an inlet where the sea isnít rough and orders them to soak their feet, because salt water is good for healing, pain, and preventing tetanus.
After two weeks with their host, they are all feeling better, when an older woman comes to them and says they must flee, because the people in the village have learned they are there and have come to capture them. ďMy children, you must hurry now, and my blessings are with you,Ē she says. She is their hostís mother and wishes nothing but the best for them. Unfortunately, they are not quick enough and once again are overpowered by the men of a village. This time they are a long way from Mattru Jong. A long way gone.
The chief of this village interrogates them dressed in his best clothing.
He calls them little devils and orders them stripped and thrown bound
into the ocean. When they lift up Ishmael, his cassettes fall out of his
pocket and once again, he finds himself explaining the music to the chief
of a village. The chief orders him to dance to it to prove that he knows
the music and has been part of a rap group. Ishmael complies, but he canít
get into the music as he normally does, because all he can think of is
his imminent death. However, he does his best and it is enough to impress
the chief. He knows now that these boys are only children looking for
safety. He orders them untied and their clothes returned to them. He orders
them to leave his area immediately and as they walk away, the boys rub
their chafed wrists and laugh to keep from crying.
It seems as if in some ways, the boys lead charmed lives and in others, they
face nothing but adversity. They see the beauty of the ocean, only to
be forced to walk on sand so hot it burns their feet terribly. They are
cared for by a good, decent fisherman, only to be captured by villagers
who fear them and want to kill them. Then, unbelievably, the cassette
tapes save their lives once more. However, in the end, they desperately
need the blessings the fishermanís mother offered them.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone".
. 09 May 2017