A Long Way Gone Study Guide


Sierra Leone, 1993-1997

New York City, 1998

Main Characters

Ishmael Beah - he narrator of this true story, Ishmael, is a boy soldier who finds a way to escape the horrors of war and go on to counsel others who are only looking for a way to live in peace.

Esther - She is a nurse at Benin House where Ishmael is taken for rehabilitation. She befriends him and helps him to find himself again.

Alhaji - He is a young man whom Ishmael befriends when they are both part of the soldiers fighting the rebels. He is as strong and cold as Ishmael in battle, but just as in need of re-finding his childhood.

Uncle Tommy - He takes Ishmael in after he is found in Freetown. Ishmael cannot stay at Benin House forever and he needs family to love him. He lucks out with Uncle Tommy, because the man truly loves Ishmael and helps him leave behind the horrors or war.

The Lieutenant - He is the father figure when Ishmael goes into battle. His words motivate the young boys to be willing to give their lives against the rebels.

Minor Characters

Junior Beah - Ishmael’s brother, his companionship and love for Ishmael are some of the memories that help rehabilitate Ishmael. They escaped the initial rebel attacks together and then lost each other in the confusion that followed days later. He goes in search of Ishmael when they are separated and dies never knowing that Ishmael had found his family only minutes before they were burned alive by the rebels.

Laura Simms - She is the woman Ishmael meets in New York City who helps children of war by being a storyteller, a cultural aspect of Sierra Leonean society. Ishmael is drawn to her because of this and she takes him under her wing while he is in America. Later, when he is able to escape Sierra Leone, she helps him get to America and becomes his mother.

Cite this page:

Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone". TheBestNotes.com.