Study Guide: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah: Book Summary

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1. Explain the meaning of the title.
2. It seems as if Ishmael is often lucky in how he survives. Mention a few instances where this luck appears and how Ishmael escapes once again.
3. Ishmael often questions why he is the only one in his family to live. Explain why you believe this is so.
4. The rebels commit terrible atrocities on civilians and eventually the soldiers do so as well. Explain why you believe they use such horrible tactics.
5. Discuss the kind of man Lieutenant Jacobi is by looking at both sides of his character. Why is Ishmael drawn to him?
6. Describe what is so poignant about the seven-year-old and eleven-year-old becoming soldiers? Why is Ishmael so hurt by the death of the seven-year-old soldier in his squad?
7. What seems to be UNICEF’s mission? How does it impact on Ishmael?
8. Describe the character of Esther. Explain how she is instrumental in saving Ishmael.
9. What happens for Ishmael at the UN conference on children of war? What does it show him is possible?
10. What is the turning point for Ishmael that makes him leave Sierra Leone? Describe his long and harrowing journey out of his country.

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