Professor John Joyce
Essay 2 – Topic 6
February 26, 2015
The Style of a Child Solider
When you were twelve could you write a detailed plot that depicts death and sorrow around every corner and the only thing keeping you alive is hope for a better tomorrow? Well young Ishmael Beah did in his book, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier which is nonfiction as it is told from the his experiences. When Beah is writing he uses the 1st & 3rd person perspectives. When he is in fist person his style is simple and casual because he seems care free. In third person it’s more complex and detailed. Beah’s sentences are often lengthy and describe emotions showing that he was being omniscient. Beah style has intensity which is used by imagery. The narrative opens with Ishmael in high school in the United States speaking to fellow students who really want him to relate his experiences in war. Beah tells his friends he might do that someday, but for now, he keeps that time to himself. The narration then goes on to relate Beah’s experiences as a boy soldier in twenty-one awe inspiring, gut wrenching chapters. Beah’s style is simplistic and we get to go on the journey through his perspectives and themes of hope and war.
We begin by meeting Beah and his family in Sierra Leone, where the Revolutionary United Front (R.U.F) also known as the rebels have begun a civil war that seems too far away to interfere in his life. Beah’s style is very straightforward and graphic. Beah leaves nothing to the imagination about the atrocities of the civil war and his own bloodthirsty behavior. However, he also relates the hope still existing in his life in a way that makes the reader hope someday we will no longer turn to war. The way Beah uses personification on nature is mesmerizing. For example “We must strive to be like the moon” (16). Beah at first didn’t know what this meant but was told it was an adage that served to remind people to always be on their best behavior and to be good to others.
Beah felt it was important for the reader to understand war is like being in hell. The sheer horror of the images Beah relates reinforces this theme. Civilians became the victims of rebel soldiers who were attempting to create the ultimate fear through unbelievable atrocities. What makes the theme even more poignant, however, is the loss of young boys to the life of soldiers where they lived lives filled with drugs, killing, and personal deprivation. It seems like a situation that can never be resolved and that makes it an even greater hell. A whole country’s culture and infrastructure is nearly destroyed in the quest for power on the part of as handful of evil men.
Beah knew that when everything else disappears there is love. “[Beah] feels as if [he has] no control over [his] future. [He] only [knows] how to survive” (87); this is the point where being a soldier, forced to fight and kill has brought them. Beah lost his entire family to the atrocities of the rebels. Later, he watches as comrades and friends die around him. He sees civilians die in horrible ways, and he himself kills indiscriminately. However, in spite of all these setbacks, he finds new support. In every instance, he is surrounded with love and hope for his future. So,