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The Portrayal Of The Main Character In The Book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier

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War strangles all the hope you have and breaks all the shells of survival to sink in a sea of loss. The book “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier” (2007) published by Sarah Crichton Books and written by Ishmael Beah, an author from Sierra Leone. It revolves around Ishmael Beah’s life in Sierra Leone during the war, who struggles to survive in this brutal war. Ishmael Beah, a young village boy who suffers greatly from the war taken in his country. His parents are divorced so he had to live through their separation. In the beginning, the war has not reached his village yet so Beah thought the war wasn’t anything serious. He found himself enjoying a hobby that averted his attention away from the war that was taking place in his country. When the time came where rebels attacked his village, he felt like there was nothing left for him. The reason Ishmael Beah decided to write about the eventful things that happened to him was to let the world see how young kids are taken from their own family environment. They are forced to flee, left to face their fate alone, without identity. These children suffer from deep psychological wounds that appear to be incurable, but appropriate forms of care may have allowed them to overcome them.

Survival is what Ishmael Beah sought for during his childhood years. Reading such novel can help people have a better understanding of children which means providing them with ways to rebuild themselves so that they are no longer passive, or active victims of war, but the makers of their own future. Conflicts of rebels have torn families apart, leaving thousands of children alone to support themselves and their brothers. Children who take part in hostilities not only endanger their lives, but their often indigent and immature behavior also poses danger to those around them.

While Beah goes through horrors of the civil war and suffers greatly from it, at one point he joins the army and suddenly becomes a soldier, holding a gun at his young age, joining in destructing his own country. When this behavior continues it gets imprinted in the children’s minds and it’s all from the lack of maturity that compels them to commit uncalculated acts to the indelible and generally irreversible trauma that lasts within them even if the fight has ended. This issue is very sensitive to Beah’s situation, being drugged and brainwashed to do all those horrible things without feeling any awareness of his ruthless actions. They had told him that the rebels were responsible of killing his parents then anger fueled him and he started imagining how he would capture them all at once, lock them inside a house, sprinkle gas over it and toss a match as he watches them burning while a laugh erupts from his throat. Kids in Beah’s shoes resort to excessive force and shoot for no reason, often not realizing the results of their actions and the suffering they impose on the victim. Beah was being clear about his suffering from the army of Sierra Leone as they had threatened him constantly with death if he runs away or refuses to fight back with them.

The author is very highly qualified in the subject of war because of his first hand experience in the events itself. The author, Beah, doesn’t consider any reader’s background knowledge of war, he just goes straight to the point explaining every detail of the events that he faced everyday, how he struggled to find a place to hide from the rebels and how afraid he felt around that particular time. A moment he had to risk his life was when he went back to the village to get some food and the rebels were still there so him and his friends crawled on the dirty ground to be as hidden as possible from the eyes of the rebels. His use of language while telling us his story is a mix of motion verbs. The running and hiding from the rebels showed how pertified he was, it was a mix of of urgency or hurriedness. He explains a special terminology in his novel very intelligibly. He expresses the terrified looks of fear the village people possessed he came across by. They were frightened whenever they got a glimpse of young boys lurking near their village thinking they were part of the rebels. He would always describe their reactions and behaviors around him.

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The evidence he uses to support his book’s central ideas is his own sufferings. He has witnessed the effects of a devastating war that did not seem to end soon. Beah seen everything from people dying, gun shootings and seeing his only brother he had left disappearing too. This proves how convincing he was to everyone reading his novel. He also depends on the reader’s personal opinion, observation and assessment because he is recalling the events that he carries now with him forever so that the reader could be convinced at how he lived through all of this till today. They are helpful to the reader because it makes the reader think and imagine at the same time. There’s no validation existing through his text because it all comes from his memories and there’s no one other than himself the reader can trust.

Ishmael Beah bias was directed to himself, he’s the only one who disapproved and observed the war and the only time he was biased was when he got drugged and brainwashed to think like the soldiers, believing the people standing on his way are his enemies. Beah was very dispassionate in his writings, he had fear in him almost every time he passed one village to another. He did not give any room to sarcastic interpretation of his sufferings. He was very scared what the next day will bring. This type of serious but dispassionate language really helped the Beah’s premise because it makes the reader more interested in his way of thinking. There were a few times where he made assumptions that him and his friends were going to die by the hands of their own people because of some situations he was put in every time someone found out about a group of kids roaming around their village. Everything in the novel itself was personalized opinion since it’s all coming from one person, Beah himself.

Ultimately, the Ishmael Beah had to grasp back the reality after getting removed from the army. He was put in a rehabilitation center by the UNICEF because of how crazy he went about killing and that he was only young soldier. He did not care who he killed or stabbed, he was basically a killing machine. The implications of the future that awaits him were the nightmares because he would still jolt up awake at night after having a dream of him standing there and killing without mercy. Although there was a positivity of getting away from the war, the negativity stayed because the memories of this horrible war and the people he lost will forever leave a big scar in his memories till this very day.

I believe the reader might gain from reading this book is Ishmael Beah’s childhood life of how far war and other violence violate the fundamental rights of the child and hinder early childhood development. Learn how this kind of bloody events can have catastrophic effects, resulting in a range of psychological symptoms in people who have lived and tasted the bitterness of war. It’s disturbing to see that time does not cure trauma, so children should be helped to express their suffering and face bad memories by providing the necessary support and guidance. When Ishmael was worried how he’s going to cope about living with a family. He did not know how he would do when his nightmares and migraines would hit him. This stuck me because I have been a victim of war, I was only 10 when my country went protesting against the president and everyday I would hear gunshots the whole night. Sometimes I would have nightmares that the shootings had struck our house but thankfully nothing happened. I somewhat understand how Ishmael felt while going through this. A difficult issue he had to overcome is being alone during the war because the separation from parents is one of the most serious shocks that war can cause, especially for young children, because it is often more painful than the war itself.

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The Portrayal Of The Main Character In The Book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier. (2021, September 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from
“The Portrayal Of The Main Character In The Book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier.” Edubirdie, 14 Sept. 2021,
The Portrayal Of The Main Character In The Book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Feb. 2023].
The Portrayal Of The Main Character In The Book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 14 [cited 2023 Feb 1]. Available from:
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