Study Guide: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah: Book Summary|
LITERARY ANALYSIS / CRITICISM: A LONG WAY GONE - ISHMAEL BEAH
When they gather in the square the next morning, the lieutenant shows them two dead bodies, one the father and the other the son, who had tried to leave the village and were murdered by the rebels. He then goes on to describe what the rebels have been doing: cutting off heads in front of family members, burning entire villages along with their inhabitants, forcing sons to have sex with their own mothers, hacking newborn babies in half because they cry too much, and cutting open the bellies of pregnant women and killing the children. He says the rebels have lost everything that makes them human and it is now time to make a stand against them. He orders all the women and girls to the kitchen and all the men and boys to the ammunition depot. When they arrive A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah - MonkeyNotes by PinkMonkey.com 17 TheBestNotes.com. Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved. No further distribution without written consent. there, there are more than thirty boys, two of whom are only seven and eleven. Their names are Sheku and Josiah and they stand close to Ishmael for guidance. After the soldiers give all of them a gun, he says that everyone has two things in common: they are afraid of looking a man in the eye and afraid of holding a gun. He says, “This gun will soon belong to you, so you better learn not to be afraid of it.”
That night, Ishmael lies awake as usual, but this time without a migraine. He ponders why this is so when a cock suddenly crows and then proceeds to crow all night until morning finally comes. It is a disquieting sound. The next day, the boys receive army shirts and shorts and new shoes. Ishmael receives Reebok pumps and is happier about that than anything else going on. When a soldier take his old pants to throw in the fire, Ishmael remembers his rap tapes, but he is too late and they are lost to the flames. Sheku and Josiah stay close to him and imitate everything he does, but Ishmael is not much of a role model, because he had never held a gun before and it frightens him.
The boys continue training exercises with AK-47s that contain no ammunition. The guns are too heavy for the little boys, so the soldiers bring out stools that they can prop up their guns for target practice. The lieutenant motivates the boys by telling them that the boy or man they are going to kill killed their parents and their family and are responsible for everything that has happened to them. They then learn how to load the guns with ammunition and how to dismantle them and oil them so they won’t misfire. These boys are being sent into battle with old guns that often break down. That night, Ishmael lies awake listening to a boy named Lansana hum melodies Ishmael has never heard until he falls asleep. This boy has done this since they had their first shooting exercise. It is another example of each boy deals with the loss of his childhood.
This chapter is full of ironies. First, the boys arrive in a village,
which seems to be acting normally and living life as they always have.
The soldiers are there to protect the village, but the truth is the rebels
are greater in number and heading their way. The new army is made up of
boys, some as young as seven. The little soldiers can’t even hold up their guns, because they’re too heavy. The cock crows all night rather than in the morning
and the only way one boy can fall asleep is by singing to himself. Life has become far too tenuous for Ishmael
and his friends.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone".
. 09 May 2017