A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
As I advance in the book, Ishmael’s innocence starts to fade and at one point is completely gone. Ishmael is now part of the army fighting against the rebel forces. It was a surprise to me that the army techniques in these chapters seem just as brutal as the rebel forces. Although they justify their violence with the defense of their country, their actions are strangely similar.
Ishmael seems to be influenced by the techniques that the army uses. In the first few chapters, Ishmael is an innocent boy who looks at war and is frightened by it. Now Ishmael writes about how the combination of the drugs made him fierce and that killing had become “as easy as drinking water.” This particular line was shocking and unbearable. It was surprising how Ishmael had seen the rebels kill his family and now he was doing the same thing in return. His attitude towards violence now is one of numb acceptance. It almost seems like he enjoys the task, in vast contract to his earlier descriptions his reaction to killing.
The soldier he has become is a completely different person to the boy who loved dancing and rap music. The brainwashing from the military seems to have worked. Ishmael constantly claims that being a part of the army makes him feel special. This is because he no longer has to run from anyone; he now has a place, and the belonging is enough to motivate his violence.
Violence became a frequent theme in these chapters. Ishmael and the soldiers make little distinction between the Rambo movies they watch and the wars in which they fight. At one point, Ishmael is asked to leave for war in the middle of the movie one day and returns to the screen after the killing “as if we had just returned from intermission.” Like the drugs, the moves seem to alter Ishmael’s realities.