A Long Way Gone

Describe Beah’s trip to New York City. What shaped his impressions? What influenced him during his time there?


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In Chapter 20, Beah travels to New York to speak at the UN. He finds the city is different than he expected, as he had envisioned people racing down the street in sports cars. Beah sees a world outside of violence and war - a world that is very different from Sierra Leone. He learns the word "snow" and repeatedly visits the dreamlike Times Square. Beah also finds that his story is sadly not unique. At the UN, he talks with many children who had similar experiences in their own countries. Beah realizes that he is not alone. Laura Simms, a storyteller who helps the children with their presentations, forges a deep connection with Beah; he eventually flees the war to live with her in New York. Other than laying the groundwork for a future home and life in the United States, the trip to New York gives Beah hope. At the end of the chapter, he is sad to leave, but also knows that if he dies in Sierra Leone, people will care. After years of witnessing and causing meaningless death, Beah comes to understand the value of his own life.