War And The Loss Of Innocence

1671 words - 7 pages

In his memoir, A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah deals with his loss of innocence as he is forced to join the children army of Sierra Leone in the country's civil war after being conscripted to the army that once destroyed his town in order for Ishmael to survive. His memoir acts as a voice to show the many difficulties that the members of Sierra Leone's child army had to suffer through and their day to day struggle to survive in the worst of conditions. In order to escape the perils and trials of war, Ishmael loses his innocence as he transitions from a child who liked to rap with his friends to a cold blooded solider in the army during the civil war in Sierra Leone. Through his transition, Ishmael is forced to resort to the addiction of drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, and “brown-brown” just so that he, along with the other members of the child army can have the courage to be able to kill their fellow countrymen and slaughter entire towns who stand in their paths. In order to portray his struggles in the army, Ishmael uses the dramatic elements of memories explained using flashback, dialogue, and first-person narration in order to establish the theme of the memoir being how war causes for a child to lose its innocence. The transition shown in the memoir illustrates how the title of the novel, A Long Way Gone, was chosen because it demonstrates how he is a long way gone psychologically, emotionally, and physically, from the child that he was when the memoir begins to the soldier that he is forced to become.
The transition of Ishmael Baeh, from innocent child to a soldier with the blood of his countrymen on his hands, is chronicled in his memoir through the usage of flashbacks that explain his memories. In the beginning of the memoir, Ishmael filled the book with flashbacks to his childhood to a time that was before he became indoctrinated as a solider. One flashback he had was of when he was in the village of Mattru Jong and how he met up with old friends there, During his time there he explained how he and his friends traveled to Bo Road where he bought food from the street vendors and how they made plans to study for the talent show the next day (Beah 8). This flashback tells of how when he was a child before the rebels came and attacked his town, Ishmael was a normal child who just wanted to have fun with his friends and was not aware of the battleground that his country had become as a part of the civil war. Ishmael uses his flashbacks to show how he transitioned psychologically because before he kills his first man, he consistently flashes back to memories of his family and friends, yet after he kills his first man, the flashbacks cease because he believes the memories are burdens on him because his life will never be the same. However, after he is rehabilitated in New York, he allows for his memories to return and the coping mechanism that was used as a solider to blot out the memories no longer is used and Ishmael goes back to using...

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