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In the memoir, A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah, He shares his experiences that we can learn more about and understand and he guides us through his daily life. For Beah, his childhood is not very pleasant and he encountered the horrors of war, loss of innocence, and how humans can change given the circumstances they endure.

Throughout the novel, Beah experiences loss of innocence through many conflicts and the violence of war. Beah’s innocence was taken away from him by wars and gave him a lust for killing. A quote that symbolizes that is ‘my heart was beating faster than it ever had. Each gunshot seemed to cling to the beat of my heart (Page 23).’ The violence and terror are presented through the eyes of Beah as that he feels guilty for the many innocent people he killed which makes him lose his childhood innocence. This connection of this quote to the theme is that Ishmael has not yet been exposed to the horrors and the violence of war until the rebels attack his village of Mattru Jong. He begins to experience the horrors of the war firsthand by hearing the sounds of the gunshots and the screams of the terrified villagers. This shows the readers that he has lost his innocence and sense of humanity by experiencing the violence of the wars he experienced, which changes him later in the novel. Beah loses his innocence through the quote ‘every time I stopped to change magazines and saw my two lifeless friends, I angrily pointed my gun into the swamp and killed more people (Page 119).’ The connection to the theme of loss of innocence is that the last strip of innocence left in him comes in his first kill as a young soldier. Fear and revenge were kept in Ishmael Beah’s mind when he made his first kill in the swamp, fear and revenge were emitted from his mind with every pull of the trigger. This quote makes the reader know that he is no longer the inexperienced child he was before and that even he feels the change in his character.

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At the beginning of the novel Beah has a happy childhood but it all changes after getting separated from his family and experiences the horrors of war. War can change someone catastrophically. Beah was not alone since numerous young adults from Sierra Leone became entangled in the war and had to kill many innocent people in unquestionable ways. This is portrayed from the quote ‘This is one of the consequences of the civil war, people stop trusting each other, and every stranger becomes an enemy (Page 37).’ This reveals to Beah how relationships between many people with others became corrupted as a result of conflicts. That experience changed him on various levels by killing innocent people even though he feels guilty about what he has done. He listens to rap music with his friends to forget about his surroundings and untouched by the horrors of war. The horrors of war for Beah began from his childhood when rebels attacked and invaded Sierra Leone killing many people in the village as well as his family. After his family’s deaths, Beah’s only thoughts were to kill or to be killed. This is shown from the quote while escaping from the rebels they found: ‘jumping over fresh dead bodies’ and ‘remains and blood sprinkle like rain (Chapter 3).’ This shows the reader that he no longer had a home or family to go back to and that his childhood was stolen from him.

One another important and common theme in A Long Way Gone is human nature. In the novel, Ishmael Beah develops a powerful connection with nature. He discovers that humans change given their circumstances eventhough sometimes they want to help nature. As he spends more time in wars and conflicts, Ishmael loses his link with nature. A quote that shows that he has changed: when I was a child, my grandmother told me that the sky speaks to those who look and listen to it. She said, ‘in the sky, there are always answers and explanations for everything: every pain, every suffering, joy, and confusion (Chapter 17).’ That night I wanted the sky to talk to me. The connection to the theme is that Beah makes this statement in Chapter 17, after showing the readers how he is fascinated by the appearance of the moon at the beginning of the novel and the wonders of nature. This again represents nature and this shows the readers that the natural world is greater than the world of conflict and human violence. This also links to the theme of memory in the novel because Beah recovers his sense of family history. He remembers the memory of his grandmother and her lesson about man’s communication with the natural world. This shows the reader that Beah remembers this connection with the natural world and wants to make himself whole and recover his connection with nature again. His loss of the connection between him and nature changed him and made him survive the hard way so this quote links to the theme of survival. This is portrayed from the quote ‘That night we were so hungry that we stole people’s food while they slept (Page 4).’ This quote connects to the theme because normally they wouldn’t be stealing people’s food. Due to their circumstances, they need to survive. There is another quote that shows survival and how humans change due to circumstances. This is shown from the quote “In the swamp, we ran past people who were stuck in the mud, past handicapped people who couldn’t be helped, for anyone who stopped to do so was risking his own life (Page 24).” This connects to the theme of “Human Nature,” because people are abandoning the villagers who are stuck or too weak to save themselves. In normal circumstances, they might have helped them, but to save their own lives they chose not to.

In conclusion, many themes are represented and should be taken into account. My audience should be able to understand these themes and apply them to daily life. I just want to claim that we should learn from Beah’s experience and try not to do the same things he did.

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