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Long Way Gone Identity Essay

The environment in childhood is important for forming identity, especially children are more vulnerable to the surrounded environment. People who experienced the war on childhood often carry their grim memories even after they are rehabilitated and have difficulties on finding their identities. We tend to forget our identities when we face a certain memory is unbearable to us, “[s]ome even forgot their names, family backgrounds and native language, and many had to wait decades to feel free to reveal their roots. (Siev)

In the memoir, A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah, Ishmael experiences the war ge of twelve and travels to find a safer place from war. We encounter the changes in Ishmael identifies him as a boy, a soldier, and a civilian boy throughout where he stays. Ishmael was a twelve years old when he first underwent the war. Ishmael was a boy who likes to dance with listening to the rap music with his friends and he was a boy who can distinguish between right and wrong behaviors ethically. The war to Ishmael was simply an issue extraneous to him.

He sees people who were escaping from his home village, Mattru Jong where was attacked by rebels and he sees people were injured and ead bodies for the first time. He could not anticipate his family’s safety. He had never been through the life or death situations or had never been taught by anyone. He tries to cope with doing his favorite things to do as “listen[ing] to rap music, trying to memorize the lyrics” (Beah 15) to avoid thinking about the situation at hand. Even he was in a situation that threatening his life, he knew his behavior is ethically right or wrong.

His squad took a little boy’s two boiled ears of corn when they were craving for foods. The boy’s mother gave them ore corns later, he “felt guilty about it for a few minutes. “(31) Ishmael is separated with his brother later and forms a group with other boys after being left alone. During their travel, the rumors about them went all over the villages and every village they passed by tries to kill the boys. They went to near death and instead of crying, they laughed with seeing the marks that were maddened by the rope that tied their hands.

Ishmael speaks out that why they should kill the dog with the only reason that the dog ate their meat even he was still suffering. Ishmael recollects the memories with his family when he faces the stressful situations or just hearing a word, family. He was a boy who is vulnerable and wanted to stay in a safe place with his family. The dream of staying with his family blew up right before he could achieve. The rebels attacked the village where Ishmael was heading after listening his family was staying. The situation was unpredictable, but Ishmael starts to blame a man who asks for the boys’ help.

The boys meet the army and were led to the village that was occupied by the military. They think taying in the army would be safer than traveling for another place to stay safe and risking their lives. The military brainwashes the boys that rebels must be killed for their revenge and their safety. After being a soldier, “[He] was not afraid of th[e] lifeless bodies. “(119) He murdered the rebels in cold blood with justifying himself as they killed innocence civilians. He becomes a murderer hidden under the name of the soldier.

Ishmael won for the fastest man who killed the captured rebel in the army and “[he] didn’t feel a thing for [rebel], didn’t hink that much about what [he] was doing. “(124) that now his identity becomes a soldier, a murderer who kills people just like the rebels did. Whenever he starts to notice what he had done in the combats, he copes with the drugs. He could not remember the memories with family and “the forests that [they] slept in became [his] home. [His] squad was [his] family. ” (126) He thinks he is ready to fight for the army and kill the rebels.

Ishmael was one of the boys in the group that they were sent to the rehabilitation center for a new life outside of the war. After eing sent to the rehabilitation center, he could not easily change due to brainwashing and violence he had lived with for two years in the army. His keeps his as a loyal soldier. Acclimated by the violence and drugs, he wants to go back to the army and fight with rebels. Ishmael refuses to be rehabilitated and suffers from the traumas those were hidden under the effect of drugs. This rehabilitating period gives back Ishmael’s memories with his family. He starts to heal and luckily he finds his uncle in the city.

By meeting his uncle seems to be his life would be favorable. He has a family to belong him as a son. Ishmael was feeling happy even he was occasionally afflicted with the trauma. He recognizes him as same as other normal boys but with uncommon experiences than others. He had been chosen to go to the UN in the NewYork to talk about the lives of children in Sierra Leone. When he tries to make his passport, his identity such as his birth certificate or proof of birth in his country was not identified. He gets angry because the country is like his home and the country doubt for his identity.

His experiences in the New York what he had never xperienced in his life before. After returning to Sierra Leon, while he was living normal workaday as a student that he was forgotten by the war. All of the sudden, he hears the gunshots everywhere and the rebels and the army collaborated. The foods were taken to the army and now, Ishmael faces the war situation again. His uncle dies due to the war. He starts to question his identity after all the catastrophe as “[he] was always losing everything that meant something to [him]”(208) and decide to leave the country, head to the New York without telling his family except his friend Mohamed.

Ishmael’s identities became a civilian and he was afraid to “end up being a soldier again,” (209) because he knew what having an identity of soldier would result in his life. Identity is a part of us that makes who we are. The people who experienced the war in their childhood show that they have difficulties in identifying their identities due to the vulnerable mental development and the environment where they stayed.

In the memoir A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah shows the changes of Ishmael’s identities as a boy who likes to listen to the rap music and keeping his ethically right ind even he is placed in a life threatening with wishing to be with his family, a soldier who was a murderer hidden behind the pride of soldier and loyal to the army where keeps him safe by killing the rebels, and a civilian who is rehabilitated outside of the war with getting his identity back as a boy and what would have the identity of a soldier could result in his life.

This memoir gives the reader to think about the importance of surrounding environment of the children and what the war could affect to the identities of the children who are placed in the war.

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