Study Guide: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah: Book Summary|
A LONG WAY GONE: ONLINE SUMMARY - ISHMAEL BEAH
That same morning, Laura keeps looking at Bah and Ishmael and finally asks them if they have winter jackets. When they tell her no, she returns that evening with coats, hats and gloves for both of them. This makes Ishmael very happy, because now he can venture out into the city. Both boys become close to Laura during the conference. When she becomes Ishmael’s mom years later, she will always talk about whether it was coincidence or destiny that Ishmael came from a storytelling culture to live with a storytelling mother in New York City. Ishmael eventually calls his uncle in Freetown. He lets his uncle listen to the sound of the city over the telephone and tells him it is excruciatingly cold. Uncle begins to laugh and tells him it is perhaps his initiation to the world of white people.
Every morning of the conference, they walk quickly through the snow to a room down the street. There they cast their sufferings aside and intelligently discuss solutions to the problems facing children in war-torn countries. Just discussing what they have suffered helps transform them. On the night of the second day, Ishmael and a boy named Madoka from Malawi walk along 47th Street and find themselves in Times Square. They are unbelievably amazed at what they see there. The lights, the huge television screens, and the crowds of people fascinate them. Later, they tell the other children about it and then, they all go out to Times Square every night. They also go to Rockefeller Center and the World Trade Center. When they ride the subway system, they are surprised at how quiet everyone is, because on their buses and trains, there is singing and dancing and a lot of talking. On every trip sightseeing, Ishmael makes mental notes to remember everything he sees to tell his uncle and his new family back home.
On the last day of the conference, a child from each country speaks briefly at the UN Economic and Social Council chamber about their own country and experiences. Ishmael had been given a pre-written speech, but he decides to speak from his heart. He emphasizes that “the problem that is affecting us children is the war that forces us to run away from our homes, lose our families, and aimlessly roam the forests.” After all the speeches are finished, the children sing a chant they have made up as well as other songs that make them cry, laugh, and dance. It is a deeply emotional afternoon. Laura later pulls Ishmael aside and tells him how moved she was by his speech. She invites the attendees, all fifty-seven of them, to her home that evening where they tell stories and dance into the night. As he looks around her home in the East Village, he doesn’t know or can even imagine that someday it is going to be his home. The next night, she accompanies Ishmael, Bah, and Dr. Tamba to the airport. She gives him her address and telephone number so they can keep in touch. As he walks away towards his airplane, Ishmael thinks about the fact that he will be just sixteen years old in eight days. What experiences he has had in his life! He is so pleased to have met people outside of Sierra Leone, because if he is killed when he returns home, he knows that a memory of his existence will be alive somewhere in the world.
Ishmael’s experiences in New York City are positive and emotional, and
even though they will never wipe out the horrors he has faced, they show him there is a world where he can be safe and people who will remember
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone".
. 09 May 2017