An Analysis of the Novel A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

Topics: A Long Way Gone

A Long Way Gone Ishmael Beah, Author of A Long Way Gone, revolves a lot of his convocation speech around the idea that one should always be trying to educate and better themselves. The novel follows Ishmael Beah through his childhood and into his early adulthood, letting the reader witness some of the things he has been educated in, both good and bad.

Even as a young child Ishmael is eager to learn unfamiliar topics. His fascination with American rap music can be credited with saving him on multiple occasions in the book, where Ishmael raps to prove that he is only an innocent young child.

He is first introduced to the music when he goes with his father to Mobimbi, a town Americanized due to an American-based company in the area. Beah’s curiositaboutth the young black guys and their ability to rap the fast pace English is what kept him coming “…to the quarters every other weekend to study that kind of music on television” (Beah 6).

Because he teaches himself this very obscure and unique ability, he is remembered by people in towns that would have otherwise killed him for their safety.

In his convocation speech, Beah talks about himself “falling in love with one of his teachers from home because of not only his ability to teach but the passion that came with his teachings. This teacher owned the one educational book in the village and allowed Beah to come read it in his hut anytime he wanted.

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The scarcity of books in no way discouraged Beah from learning, but rather made him want to learn more. When he arrives in the United States and experiences his first library it only encourages him more, completely baffled by the number of books he has free access to.

After fighting as a child soldier Beah’s personality is changed completely, and he is turned from an innocent, curious young boy into a malicious young child who cares about no one. His personality doesn’t change much upon arriving at his rehabilitation center until meeting Esther, a nurse to who he can open up. Esther learns about his interest in rap music and buys him rap cassettes and a Walkman for making such progress, though she doesn’t let him take the Walkman for fear of the other children taking it. Although Ishmael often gets angry thinking about his rough past, Esther still offers the Walkman to him saying that she will “…be here every day, so you can come and listen to it anytime” (Beah160). Beah develops a connection with Esther similar to the teacher from his village, he sees her dedication to his rehabilitation and reentrance to his old life.

Beah’s positive influences in his life have led him down the right road and to live a meaningful life. After leaving Sierra Leone Beah continued to educate himself, receiving a scholarship to the United Nations International School, and then to Oberlin College where he graduated with a degree in Political Science.

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An Analysis of the Novel A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. (2022, Aug 10). Retrieved from

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