A Long Way Gone Essay Sample

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“One of the unsettling things about my journey, mentally, physically, and emotionally, was that I wasn’t sure when or where it was going to end. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life, I felt that I was starting over and over again.” Ishmael Beah

A Long Way Gone written by Ishmael Beah is a memoir of a boy soldier and the experiences he has endured during the occurrence of the Sierra Leone Civil War. Ishmael’s experiences physically, mentally and emotionally have altered the person he is and has become. Physically he is ambitious and loyal, and mentally he is immensely intelligent and logical, and emotionally and culturally he is intellectual and resilient.

Being and becoming ambitious and loyal is not effortless. Ishmael has acquired these traits from the various experiences he endured during the occurrence of the war. One of the vast amounts of experiences and occurrences that transpired was when Ishmael’s friend, Saidu passes out and the group of boys are unsure if he’s alive or not. “We will have to carry him to the next village, however far that might be” (Beah 83) Even though Ishmael possessed an insufficient amount of knowledge of these boys than his other group they have associated and have bonded with each other through the occurrences of events. Not only Ishmael, but also the group have implemented and represented how ambitious and loyal they are.

The second example, Ishmael portrays loyalty when he first arrives at the rehabilitation center and they are implanted with the enemy, the rebels (Beah 135). He is portraying loyalty to the army, who he has fought for the past year. When the boys extract a fight with the rebels, Ishmael fights along side of his army combatants. The final example occurs when Ishmael is chosen to be a spokesperson for the rehabilitation center. Ishmael states, “we can be rehabilitated” (Beah 175) this is demonstrating how ambitious and loyal he is toward the cause of the rehabilitation center and everything they are doing to support and restore the child soldiers, Ishmael included. Being and becoming ambitious and loyal are difficult traits to possess. Ishmael portrays these traits frequently in his story and they help him immensely with others.

The next traits that Ishmael has acquired mentally though the duration of the memoir are intelligence and the ability of being logical. Ishmael is unaccompanied and is desolated in the forest during the day and night and is inquiring a location to stay invulnerable. He is excessively concentrating on his survival and is attempting to locate shelter, water, food, and companions. Being alone and vulnerable, his thoughts begin to take a toll on him but he strived though and survives. (Beah 50) Everything that has occurred during the duration of the memoir Ishmael endures the experiences and develops the experiences into an innovation.

Every experience and occurrence has altered him into the person he is and has become. When Ishmael is acknowledged and is accepted to have the opportunity of traveling to New York, he is going to speak upon child soldiers. (Beah 191) Ishmael has vast amounts of various reasons to be exasperated and infuriated after the experiences he has endured, but instead he turns all of the negativity into positivity, an innovation. He continuously demonstrates and encourages others to educate people on the experiences and occurrences all over the world with child other soldiers.

The last traits Ishmael has acquired are being intellectual and resilient from the various experiences he endured during the occurrence of the war. One of the vast amounts of experiences and occurrences that transpired was the passing of Ishmael’s friend Saidu, Ishmael and others were in mourning of the loss but as Ishmael states “we all knew we could grieve only for a short time” (Beah 89). Ishmael was also attributing that they cannot take time to grieve for Saidu like he deserves, because during the war they do not possess time to be weak. If the boys possess survival during these occurrences it is necessary that they are capable of doing anything and everything in order to strive and be strong. The second example of Ishmael’s resilience is when the group discovers that the village where their families were located at was bombarded.

Gasemu, the man they took vengeance on ends up becoming shot by one of the rebels. (Beach 96) Sufficiently after Ishmael comes to terms with the fact that the attack was not Gasemu’s fault and attempts to save his life. The final example is when Ishmael’s uncle visits the rehabilitation center. The feeling of confliction surfaces and Ishmael tells his uncle, “thank you for coming to see me but I don’t even know you” (Beah 172) Ishmael had lost confidence in search of family and being introduced to his uncle was a difficult situation to be in. Ishmael begins to gain knowledge about his uncle, also begins to trust him and appreciate him. Ishmael is blessed with vast amounts of various traits and experiences that helped guide him through his journey. Resilience is the one trait that sustained overall.

Throughout the memoir Ishmaels experiences physically, mentally and emotionally have altered the man he is and has become. Visualizing the unforgettable experiences that he endured. He experienced and executed appalling actions and accomplished incredible actions also. Ishmael is guided through his journey with vast amounts of various traits that he possesses, ambitiousness, loyalty, intelligence, the ability of being intellectual and resilience. Not possessing knowledge of the occurrence of death nor when nor where. Everything occurs for a reason. Suffering for a short duration until receiving and earning something to live for.


Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone. New York: Furnar, Struaw and Giro, 2007

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